Port Metro Vancouver has begun a series of stakeholder workshops as part of its new long-term strategic vision.
Stakeholders, industry customers and First Nations are invited to give their ideas on the port authority's review of its land use plan, the first major initiative to implement the Port 2050 strategic vision.
The workshops began last week and will be held at several venues until early May. The topics range from port growth and development, strategic land development and port transportation planning.
None of the workshops are being held in Delta, home to the Deltaport container terminal and an area eyed for a major expansion in the next few years.
The workshops will be followed by a series of public open houses in June, but those times and locations haven't been announced.
Port Metro Vancouver president and CEO Robin Silvester, in a letter to Delta council, explained the port authority is inviting Delta's participation in the process to update the land use plan.
"Once complete, the new plan will provide a framework to guide the physical development of Port Metro Vancouver over the next 15 to 20 years. It will contain policies on land use and development and will identify the types of uses appropriate on land and water across the port's jurisdiction," he explained.
The major element of the port authority's Container Capacity Improvement Program is an entirely new three-berth terminal at Roberts Bank, known as Terminal 2 (T2). It would double container capacity by more than two million TEUs (20-foot equivalent units).
The port authority says it's conducting field studies this month as part of ongoing environmental and technical work for the proposed Terminal 2.
All this consultation and planning by Port Metro Vancouver is underway as controversy continues to swirl over the future of South Delta farmland and whether hundreds of acres will be converted to portrelated uses.
Delta South MLA Vicki Huntington recently revealed plans to industrialize prime farmland in the Agricultural Land Reserve with warehouse logistics.
Huntington found that a warehouse developer signed $98 million in options to buy 11 farm parcels near Highway 17 and Deltaport Way.
She said she's concerned that if the consortium is partnered with Port Metro Vancouver, there may be no need to go through the Agricultural Land Commission because the port falls within federal jurisdiction.
Late last week, provincial New Democrats tabled a motion in the legislature asking the federal government to respect the ALR in Delta and called on the B.C. Liberals to support the motion.
"Between the province's involvement in farmland speculation in Delta using B.C. Rail, and B.C.'s refusal to tell the federal government that an end run around the agricultural land commission is not on, it is clear that the Liberals have no real intention of protecting the Agricultural Land Reserve," said agriculture critic Lana Popham.
Delta North MLA Guy Gentner questioned whether there has been a real attempt to look at the range of options, including solutions to move and store containers elsewhere than on valuable farmland.
Agriculture Minister Don McRae last week insisted he has faith in the ALC being able to carry out its mandate.
Meanwhile, Huntington is encouraging residents to sign a petition demanding the B.C. government protect South Delta farmland.
The petition will be available at Huntington's constituency office in Ladner and will be distributed by volunteers at various locations in Delta and throughout the Lower Mainland. Huntington will formally introduce the written petition to the legislative assembly.
An online version of the petition will also be made available on Huntington's website, www.vickihuntington.ca.