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Delta port operator wants T2 decision paused

DP4 would be a fourth container berth on the east side of the Roberts Bank Causeway and would include an expansion of the intermodal rail yard along the causeway
Global Container Terminals DP4 project
GCT says DP4 will add up to two million 20-foot-equivalent (TEIs) of new capacity, in line with demand.

A decision on the Terminal 2 (T2) application should be put on hold until the federal government has the chance to carefully weigh a competing proposal for container terminal expansion at Roberts Bank in Delta.

That is what Global Container Terminals (GCT), the operator of the three-berth Deltaport container terminal, is saying regarding its proposed Deltaport Fourth Berth (DP4) project, which is winding its way through a lengthy application process.

The Port of Vancouver is hoping a decision will be coming before the end of this year on its T2 application, which would see a new three-berth terminal constructed on a man-made island adjacent to the existing port facility. GCT contends DP4 can accommodate future capacity demand while having fewer environmental impacts.

The BC Environmental Assessment Office and Impact Assessment Agency of Canada this May issued joint guidelines on the scope of the assessment for the DP4 application.

The application is going through an updated, lengthier assessment process compared to the process for port authority’s T2 application, which was submitted several years ago when an earlier assessment process was still in effect.

Engaging with Indigenous nations and organizations, GCT is now in a three-year phase, which will be followed by another phase that could last around two years. The process could be complete around 2027.

GCT spokesperson Marko Dekovic told the Optimist the government should ensure it can properly compare the two projects to see what is least impactful and most beneficial.

“A key fact is that Roberts Bank Terminal 2, as proposed, will take at least seven-and-a-half or more years to construct. If you project out when each of the projects would be able to be operational, our project is basically earlier or exactly the same time as Roberts Bank Terminal 2, late 2032 or early 2033,” he said.

“Our construction timeline is only about four years because we’re building on a much smaller footprint. So, the time that we are currently perhaps behind in the environmental assessment process, we quickly make up by the fact our project takes a lot less to construct.”

Noting they’ve consistently heard from various groups, as well as the City of Delta, that T2 should be paused in order for the government to evaluate both proposals, Dekovic reiterated DP4 would be a privately-funded, incremental project.

Delta Mayor George Harvie wrote to the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada earlier this year requesting it postpone its decision on T2 until it can be determined which of the proposed projects will have fewer adverse environmental and community impacts.

If approved, T2 would not be operated by GCT, but a separate operator chosen by the port authority.

Noting the port authority has yet to identify a private sector terminal operator partner, GCT also recently said container terminal capacity and the T2 project are not even urgent issues for the west coast or Canada.

The Port of Vancouver notes that if T2 is approved, a two-phased procurement approach would be followed.

The port says it would select a contractor through a design-build or design-build-finance procurement to build the new landmass and marine structures, then an operator will be selected to build, equip and operate the new terminal through a terminal concession procurement.