The City of Delta is requesting that the federal government postpone or altogether deny the approval of the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 (RBT2) project because of the adverse, unmitigable effects it would bring to the surrounding community and environment.
Among these, a potential species-wide impact to migratory birds.
Approved by Delta council during its Feb. 7 meeting, the report from Delta staff requests that feds either postpone their decision until the environmental and community impacts of the proposed GCT Deltaport Berth 4 project have been reviewed, or they deny the project based on the Federal Review Panel Report and Environment and Climate Change Canada’s (ECCC) concerns.
“Thanks to the team who have put this report together. Thousands of pages of further information on this topic [from the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority] have been succinctly put forward to council in six pages ... I can wholeheartedly support the approach,” said Coun. Jeannie Kanakos.
Following Coun. Alicia Guichon’s agreement, Mayor George Harvie requested staff send the report to Delta MP Carla Qualtrough, Delta North MLA Ravi Kahlon, Delta South MLA Ian Paton, the federal and provincial ministers of environment, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier John Horgan.
“[The report] is strong-worded, but I think it’s quite necessary for what we’re dealing with,” said Guichon.
Despite the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority’s list of proposed mitigation and offsetting measures for the RBT2 project, Delta staff emphasized that, based on the conclusions from the Federal Review Panel Report and the ongoing concerns from ECCC, the additional measures can’t “substantially address some of the key environmental concerns identified through the assessment project.”
Most of these proposed measures from the port authority relate to biofilm and effects on birds, effects on marine mammals and fish, as well as consultation with Indigenous groups, which were explained in more than 2,500 pages of additional material.
Pointing to the environmental assessment process for Deltaport Berth 4 still being years away from completion, the Delta staff report suggests that a comparative assessment of the two projects could then take place after the expected two to three years should the federal government choose to delay instead of deny.
“Given the magnitude of these proposed port expansions, planning timeframes in multiples of decades and billions of dollars in investment, this should be considered an unreasonable delay, especially if it results in the best option for the environment and the community,” says the Delta staff report.
This delay would also allow time for the federal and provincial government to “respond to outstanding requests to undertake a regional assessment of the Fraser River estuary and Salish Sea, and develop a long-term plan to guide conservation efforts, climate change adaptation and future sustainable development.”
The RBT2 Federal Review Panel submitted its final report to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change in March 2020, then the Minister requested that the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority provide additional information about project impacts and mitigations in August 2020.
The deadline for a decision on the project was delayed.
In November 2021, the port authority submitted a response to the Minister’s questions, and then the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada announced a public comment period on the response on Dec. 15, which was set to close this Sunday, Feb. 13.
But in brief statement on its website posted Wednesday morning after the Optimist's deadline, the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada said the deadline for people to submit written comments about the $3.5 billion expansion of Roberts Bank’s container terminal capacity will now be March 15.