Federal and provincial environmental assessments are nothing more than a cruel hoax.
That’s what Fraser Voices spokesperson Otto Langer told the Optimist following a rally at a jet fuel tank farm under construction in Richmond, a gathering that included about a dozen concerned citizens trying to raise awareness about various projects they say threaten the Fraser River estuary including several on the Delta side of the river.
“The way these things are done, you’re bypassing proper environmental impact reviews and here we are in 2021 and they’re playing games you would have seen in the 1960s. It’s so frustrating,” said Langer, a retired Department of Fisheries and Oceans biologist.
The Vancouver Airport Fuel Facilities Corporation’s tank farm is to provide jet fuel for YVR, a project opponents say not only poses a danger for the area but makes little sense with fuel still trucked from the facility instead of being piped to the airport.
Meanwhile, major concerns continue when it comes to FortisBC’s big expansion plans for its Tilbury LNG facility in Delta as well as the adjacent application for an LNG export facility, called the Tilbury Marine Jetty Project, by the Tilbury Jetty Limited Partnership.
Lehigh Hanson Materials Ltd., meantime, wants to build a grinding facility with a marine terminal, adjacent to its existing cement plant on Tilbury Island, which would produce up to 650,000 tonnes of supplementary cementitious material per year when fully operational, as well as bring thousands of additional truck trips into Delta.
Fraser Voices has also voiced objections over the application by the Port of Vancouver to build the Terminal 2 Project, a three-berth container facility that would be located on a new man-made island at Roberts Bank.
The port is submitting additional information requested by the federal government on the application and the port authority is hoping for a decision later this year.
Langer notes the environmental review was flawed from the start including the findings and recommendations from a federally-appointed review panel.
The option to replace the George Massey Tunnel, which the province has yet to announce, could also be a great concern, he said.
“You just shake your head. Is someone going to try to put this all together and try and do a decent job? At least (former Prime Minister Stephen) Harper said he would water down environmental reviews and get rid of half the protections. We at least knew what he was doing. Now (Justin) Trudeau has come along to supposedly save us all but nothing has really changed,” said Langer.
The lack of proper oversight and an overall industrial plan means harmful projects will be added on a piecemeal basis with residents unaware of the scope of what could be the end result, he noted.
“It’s frustrating for some of us old timers that have been through this, so many times in the last 50 years. Right now, the pressure on the estuary is greater than it’s been any time in the past. The government claims to be doing so many good things for the environment and protecting the economy but that’s all really highly misleading. It’s actually a cruel hoax how the government is packaging these items,” added Langer.
He noted members of Fraser Voices are to meet later this month with staff from B.C. Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy George Heyman’s office later this month.