Despite the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority urging Delta council to hold off, the city is taking a stand against port expansion at Roberts Bank.
On Monday council voted in favour of a staff recommendation that a letter be sent to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson, as well as others, asking the proposed Terminal 2 project not be approved based on the findings of a report by an independent federal review panel.
Among the environmental and other concerns is the potential loss of agricultural land to serve future port needs, said Mayor George Harvie.
“It concludes that many of the mitigation measures proposed by the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority would not be as effective as predicted. It makes recommendations that are focused on further studies, monitoring, reporting, offsetting and other measures, most of which do not directly prevent or mitigate the adverse effects of the project,” said Harvie.
Environment and Climate Change Canada scientists had concerns that some adverse effects would be immediate, continuous and cannot be mitigated for migratory birds, Harvie noted.
The review panel submitted its report to the federal government this spring, noting the project would enable an increase in container terminal capacity on Canada’s west coast, while also resulting in increased employment and business opportunities.
However, among the findings, the panel report also notes there would be “significant adverse and cumulative effects on wetlands and wetland functions at Roberts Bank.”
The report didn’t have a recommendation either in support or opposition to the project as the government is to issue a decision this November.
Council received several letters strongly in support of the Delta staff recommendation including one from Against Port Expansion’s Roger Emsley, who said T2 is an outdated and misguided project and not appropriate for Canada‘s trading needs. He wrote opposition to T2 had been growing by the day.
The port also delivered a message Monday urging council to hold off sending out letters in opposition until the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada comes out with its report with recommendations on draft conditions.
Monday’s discussion saw a heated debate between Harvie and Coun. Lois Jackson, who complained council had not talked with port officials in a while and should first understand what the port intends to do in response to the review panel report.
Harvie countered staff have been in regular contact with the port and have enough information to take a position against T2.
Jackson was the lone council member to vote in opposition, saying elected council and not staff should be making the decisions.
The proposed new three-berth container terminal would be built on a man-made island adjacent to the existing Deltaport container terminal.
The port notes early on in the T2 process it launched a comprehensive environmental study program and has plans for minimizing any potential environmental effects.
Responding to the review panel’s report, the port stated the findings and recommendations have provided a road map as to how, on top of existing proposed mitigation measures, the port can further mitigate project related effects.