One of Richmond’s biggest employers is threatening to pull its headquarters out of the city after the latest delay to replacing the Massey Tunnel.
The chief of London Drugs, which employs almost 900 people at its B.C. base in Ironwood, said he’s going to consider other options for its hub due to lack of movement on replacing the ageing tube under the Fraser River.
The previous B.C. Liberal government started preliminary work in 2017 on a $3.5 billion, 10-lane bridge to replace the 59-year-old tunnel, but the newly-elected NDP government cancelled the project.
Earlier this week, the province announced it was going to keep studying the project options and wouldn’t make a final decision until 2020.
Clint Mahlman, London Drugs’ president and chief operating officer, said relocation may be required due to costs associated with the daily gridlock around the tunnel.
“We are very disappointed the provincial government has delayed decisions on resolving the movement of goods and people around the George Massey crossing,” Mahlman said in a statement.
“With this announcement, we have no choice but to consider all options for locating our head office and distribution centre.
“As one of Richmond and BC’s largest employers and businesses, this is frustrating and disappointing to be put in this position once again after years of providing feedback and ideas to the City of Richmond and to the provincial governments in the past.”
The Richmond Chamber of Commerce echoed London Drugs’ condemnation of a further delay in replacing or upgrading the crossing.
“We have been strong supporters of moving this development forward since 2016, based on very clear feedback we received from our members,” said chamber chair Barbara Tinson.
“There are people losing hours of their lives waiting in traffic on Highway 99 every day. That’s time away from their kids, from their families.
“Richmond is a net importer of jobs and a lot of these workers are coming from the more affordable housing south of the Fraser.
“Employers in Richmond are losing good people, because the commute just isn’t worth it anymore.”
Tinson added that she had hoped B.C.’s transportation minister Claire Trevena would have “decided on a solution, based on this review, which emphasized the urgency of improving this crossing.
“Instead, we are offered more study and more delays. And we fear that whatever is finally built will be at or near capacity when it opens. ”