A newly formed grassroots group opposed to port expansion in South Delta is holding a public meeting this Saturday.
Formed by members of three South Delta churches, Citizens Against Port Expansion (CAPE) is organizing the meeting to make residents aware of the impacts of Port Metro Vancouver's proposed Terminal 2 (T2) as well as what CAPE points out is clear proof of plans to
industrialize the community's prime farmland.
"Our primary concerns are responsible stewardship of the farmland and the threat posed by planned massive industrialization of the South Delta community," said Rev.
Dudley Ritchie, one of the founders of the group.
The town hall meeting will be held at the Sundance Inn banquet hall (6574 Ladner Trunk Rd.) from 2 to 4 p.m.
CAPE members attend All Saints Anglican, Benediction Lutheran and Ladner United churches.
"We are strongly motivated by responsible stewardship of the farmland and ecosystem surrounding South Delta. If the proposed development proceeds we think the present character and nature of South Delta will be lost forever, including the potential for decimating the Roberts Bank ecosystem - one of the most important natural areas on the west coast of North America," states a CAPE news release.
T2 is a proposed three-berth terminal that would double container handling capacity at Roberts Bank if it's constructed adjacent to the existing three-berth Deltaport terminal as planned.
The project is part of Port Metro Vancouver's Container Capacity Improvement Program, a long-term strategy to meet anticipated growth in demand for container capacity. The port authority, which is also updating its land use plan, has begun public consultations on T2, coming up with preliminary designs for the proposed facility.
While the project still needs to go through approvals, the provincial government has already indicated support. Last year, the province unveiled the Pacific Gateway Transportation Strategy 2012 - 2020, a series of measures aimed at improving the supply chain on the West Coast.
A $2 billion project, T2 was mentioned, although the report notes the project could be built in stages.
Against Port Expansion spokesperson Roger Emsley will be one of the guest speakers at Saturday's meeting. He said it's clear the provincial government supports the project, but he's interested to find out where the New Democrats stand on T2.
Environmental groups have raised alarms over what they say is the Conservative government's attempt to streamline the federal environmental assessment process to favour economic interests. Port Metro Vancouver, however, states T2 will be subject to a thorough and independent environmental assessment.
Concerned what a watering-down of the environmental assessment process could mean when it comes to T2, Emsley noted a 2008 federal government study recommended no further port expansion in the Vancouver area until the Port of Prince Rupert potential has been maximized.
The speakers at Saturday's town hall meeting also include Delta South MLA Vicki Huntington, Delta North MLA Guy Gentner, activist Ian Robertson and others, including environmentalist Mary Taitt.
For more information about CAPE, e-mail citi-zensagainstportexpansion@ gmail.com.