Delta South MLA Vicki Huntington is congratulating local conservation groups for successful efforts in expanding the international Ramsar wetland designation in South Delta, but is asking why Roberts Bank has been omitted.
"We owe a great debt to the Boundary Bay Conservation Committee, the Burns Bog Conservation Society and people in all levels of government who worked for many long years to make this moral victory possible," Huntington said.
"Without a doubt, the Fraser delta is the most important bird habitat in Canada and having the recognition afforded by a Ramsar designation is a giant step forward. The only problem is one notable exception - Roberts Bank."
Sturgeon Bank, the South Arm Marshes, Boundary Bay, Serpentine Fen, Burns Bog and the existing Ramsar area on Westham Island have been included in the new Fraser River delta Ramsar site.
However, Roberts Bank, site of the proposed Terminal 2 container port expansion project, was not included in the federal government-approved designation.
Ramsar is an internationally-recognized designation that can only help South Delta move forward in its efforts to preserve productive wetlands and migratory bird population for future generations, said Huntington.
The independent MLA said she is exasperated by the federal government's decision not to include Roberts Bank.
"It is as if half the Fraser delta doesn't exist. Roberts Bank is already being targeted by federally-managed Port Metro Vancouver, which makes the decision not to include it in the Ramsar designation all the more questionable.
"We are blessed by the rich intertidal zone at Roberts Bank," said Huntington. "Thanks to volunteer conservation efforts, our future generations may still enjoy the coastal fisheries, the Pacific Migratory Bird Flyway and presence of the millions of birds that travel through the Fraser delta. It is a national resource."
On the provincial level, most of Roberts Bank is designated as a Wildlife Management Area, except for approximately 820 hectares surrounding Deltaport.
"The province deliberately left enough land out to enable the construction of Terminal 2 at Deltaport," said Huntington. "Now the feds have done the same - and more. The hypocrisy of the whole thing is bewildering: either you have an internationally important bird area, or you don't. Carving imaginary lines out of an ecological map of the Fraser delta is a mug's game."
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