One indisputable dunce pursuing a nomination for the coming provincial election praised the B.C. Liberal government for its “prudent fiscal management.” Obviously, that person pays no attention to reality. Oxford Dictionaries defines the adjective prudent:
“acting with or showing care and thought for the future.”
Liberals under Campbell or Clark have done the opposite; they’ve been remarkably unwise and imprudent. The scale of financial follies has grown so large in this province that citizens are inured. Collectively, British Columbians shrug, unable to notice the situation described by Everett Dirksen long ago:
“A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon, you’re talking real money.”
The opening this month of the new Port Mann bridge is merely one more piece of evidence. In January, The Journal of Commerce interviewed Gerrit Hardenberg, a senior structural engineer during construction of the five lane bridge that opened in 1964:
“Hardenberg was astonished when he found out about the B.C. government’s decision to replace the Port Mann bridge with a new cable-stayed structure that will open in late 2012 or early 2013.
” ‘I consider the project a waste of money, firstly, because the present bridge has not come at all to the end of its useful life,’ he said.
“…’I think that the final decision for the project is influenced by the desire to save the government the trouble of financing the whole scheme by cunningly replacing a free bridge with a toll bridge,’ said Hardenberg.
” ‘Politically, this transition seems easier if you go for a completely new scheme and remove the old bridge.’ “
Indeed, the 1964 Port Mann bridge received extensive seismic upgrades in 2001 after which, according to highways engineers, its useful life had been extended to at least 2040. Of course, the decision to spend $3.3 billion for a new toll bridge and roadway improvements was about serving the real beneficiaries of BC Liberal rule: land developers and constructions contractors, especially Kevin Falcon’s favourite: KIEWIT.
Does the Port Mann project reflect prudent fiscal management? Well, using the Bank of Canada inflation calculator, we can compare today’s project with the one from 1964. The original $25 million bridge cost translates to $185 million in today’s dollars.
Categories: BC Liberals