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Better Deltaport security 'for the price of a latte'

The Roberts Bank Terminal alone handles more than three million containers annually
Delta Police Chief Neil Dubord said employees at YVR must undergo security checks but many who work at the port don’t face such a requirement. Sandor Gyarmati photo

Perhaps a small fee for every container can go along way in addressing the need to address major security concerns at Deltaport.

That was one of the options put forward by Delta Police Chief Neil Dubord at a recent presentation on a report by Peter German & Associates, highlighting serious issues from the lack of a dedicated police force at Deltaport and other port facilities.

The report was recently released by the City of Delta and Delta Police and outlines concerns since the disbandment of the Ports Canada Police in 1997 as well as subsequent responsibility for port security fragmented among various entities.

At the Oct. 19 police board meeting, Dubord explained the potential next steps in advocating for a solution, law enforcement options outlined in the report.

“On a higher level, there’s two different models that might be available. I don’t think there’s support for separate ports police again, another police department within the Lower Mainland that might manage the port. But I think there was some support for a model, whether it would be general duty patrol, which would be done by either the City of Vancouver or City of Delta, and then there would be an investigative element as well,” explained Dubord.

Noting about 30,000 people enter the port on a regular basis, of which only 7,000 are security-cleared, Dubord said clearance is an issue that needs to be addressed.

Another option is filling a currently reduced investigative element at Federal Serious and Organized Crime (FSOC) in British Columbia (E Division), which works closely with international, national and municipal police.

“The idea would be that you could fence the funding so that if you had 12 seats or 20 seats, they would all be looked after. They would be filled, so they wouldn’t be pulled to other duties, other demands that there are operationally from the RCMP side,” he said.

Dubord also noted that an idea for funding put forward by Mayor George Harvie is a $10 surcharge for each container, which would be a “safety surcharge” applied on top of existing container fees.

“A $10 surcharge is very small. That’s the price of a latte, almost. That money would be dedicated to a security team that would be able to police the ports, both on the general duty side and beefing up the investigative side as well,” he added.

Asked by the board if there has been any response, so far, from the federal level, Dubord said, “At this time there has been no response. So, it’s unfortunately fallen on deaf ears.”

He said that there have been other reports since 2001, all recommending additional law enforcement at the port.

Dubord also said now that the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority’s planned Terminal 2 Expansion has been approved for Roberts Bank, there may be an opportunity to convince decision makers to consider the issue.

The board agreed to endorse the report and support advocacy efforts.

The report was also endorsed by Delta council on Oct. 23, where German made a presentation.

German said that most who work at the ports are law-abiding citizens but there is an element that have connections with organized crime groups. He said security clearance for most is up to the terminals and is clearly lacking.

His report notes the findings “resonates with a sense of urgency. Today’s challenges are far more profound than those of 1997, with national security and the inflow and outflow of illicit drugs and contraband topping the list.”

Council forwarded it to Metro Vancouver for support.

If supported by the Metro board, it will be forwarded to the Public Safety Minister and Solicitor General.