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Major Delta port expansion given thumbs-up

The port authority said the terminal will accommodate increased demand for trade and play a critical role in supporting Canadian exporters and consumers.

The Roberts Bank Terminal 2 (RBT2) megaproject in Delta has been approved.

The Minister of Transport, Omar Alghabra, and Minister of Natural Resources, Jonathan Wilkinson, hosted a virtual announcement Thursday afternoon to announce that the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority’s (VFPA) major container port expansion application has been given the green light after a “long and thorough review.”

Built on a new man-made island adjacent to the current Deltaport container facility, RBT2 will provide a 50 per cent increase to the port’s container capacity, providing 2.4 million TEUs (20-foot-equivalent units) of additional capacity annually.

Describing the projects as “good news” for the country, Wilkinson said that since a review panel released its findings on the application, the proponent has worked with government to include additional measures to offset and mitigate potential environmental impacts.

He noted the project has 373 legally-binding conditions including implementing measures to offset impacts to western sandpipers that rely on biofilm at the mudflats, as well as impacts to fish habitat, noise affecting resident killer whales and other concerns.

Saying they were guided by science, Wilkinson added, “Given the economic imperative of having a path forward for enhanced exports and imports from Canada’s west coast, this decision is strongly in the interests of Canada’s future prosperity. And, given the greater resilience this port capacity would give to Canada’s supply chains, and given the enormous effort that has been undertaken to effectively mitigate the key potential impacts, environmental impacts of this project, we believe this decision is in the best interests of Canada.”

Alghabra said it is in the national interest for the project to proceed, but it was a decision not taken lightly.

He also said it is an important step to ensure Canadians get their goods to market and that the economic benefits will be significant.

In a statement, Delta MP Carla Qualtrough said she is confident the government considered the perspectives of the Delta community, including the Tsawwassen First Nation and Delta’s mayor and council.

“In making the decision to allow the Robert Banks Terminal 2 Project to move forward, the Government of Canada considered the likely significant environmental impacts of the project as well as economic considerations such as our national reliance on exports and trade, the need for increased container capacity on the West Coast, the need to address supply chain issues, and job creation… As the MP for Delta, I will now turn my efforts towards monitoring and ensuring compliance,” said Qualtrough.

Editor's note: The Optimist is seeking comment from the Port of Vancouver, Global Container Terminals (GCT), who have been advocating its competing expansion bid that would see a fourth berth added to the current facility, the Deltaport Expansion Berth 4 (DP4) project and others. Look for more reaction stories and coverage online in the days to come and in the April 27th print edition.