It's going to be a long fight.
That's what Against Port Expansion's Roger Emlsey believes is in store for Delta as Port Metro Vancouver prepares for major growth, which could lead to devastating environmental impacts, loss of farmland and a reduction in Delta's quality of life.
"We keep saying that the port keeps playing games with its numbers. There is no significant need to expand and the port has plenty of container capacity," he told the Optimist this week.
Port CEO and president Robin Silvester appeared before Delta council last week to provide an update on the port's land use plan and proposed Terminal 2 (T2) project. He had to answer some tough questions and hear concerns from several civic politicians about the impact port growth could have on the community.
Saying he was pleased to see council take a more critical stand, Emsley said it's unfortunate that, at the end of the day, Delta council has no legal jurisdiction when it comes to the port expanding, only perhaps a moral one.
He said he's also encouraged that an independent panel is to review T2, but he's concerned Ottawa will bully the panel, even though a panel three decades earlier recommended against container port expansion at Roberts Bank.
"They can't ignore the previous comments from the regulatory agencies. The DFO also said very clearly there's no way that they could contemplate a second terminal in the location they want. That comment came a while ago, but the one thing we know is the value hasn't changed of this ecosystem at Roberts Bank," Emsley said.
Noting Roberts Bank is a major stopover point on the Pacific Flyway and a critical feeding area for millions of shorebirds, APE says it's clear there should be no further industrial development allowed on Roberts Bank.
Port Metro Vancouver says current projections indicate approximately four million TEUs (20foot equivalent units) of additional capacity will be needed to meet West Coast container demand by 2030.
However, APE notes the port faces a possible loss of ships diverting via the Suez and Panama canals to East Coast ports. The group also notes one of the two inner harbour terminals wants to double its capacity and other Vancouver area terminals are looking to expand.
Prince Rupert's container port is also expanding and is a much better routing for containers destined for Eastern Canada and U.S., according to APE.
Taken together, all of B.C.'s container ports have capacity to handle container volumes for many years to come, says the group, adding that even small productivity improvements could result in the West Coast having container port capacity of 11 million or more TEUs.
T2 is a proposed three-berth container terminal at Roberts Bank that the port authority says could provide additional capacity of 2.4 million TEUs. Subject to environmental approvals, the project, which could be operational by 2024, would be made up of three major components: the marine terminal, road and rail infrastructure on the Roberts Bank causeway, and upland road and rail infrastructure. Those road and rail projects would be in addition to projects already planned or underway.
. The port is currently undertaking a consultation for T2, including an open house that will take place Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Delta Town & Country Inn in Ladner.