Re: Port’s response to Delta council, July 24
I guess we should not be surprised the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority is not happy with Delta’s decision to ask the federal government to reject the proposal to build Roberts Bank Terminal 2.
However the port’s response, as reported in the Optimist, gives every appearance of being both condescending and misleading.
The port says, “It’s important to clarify the environmental assessment process,” implying that Delta council and staff do not understand the process.
I suggest that Delta, its staff and the public understand the process very well. But to be clear let’s summarize that process:
1. The next step towards making a decision on whether to approved T2 is for the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada to decide if the project is likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects (CEAA 2012 52 (1)). If he so decides, then he is to refer the matter to the Governor in Council (the federal cabinet).
2. The federal cabinet must then decide if the significant adverse environmental effects are justified in the circumstances, or are not justified in the circumstances.
Now we already know there are numerous adverse environmental effects. The review panel’s report says so as does the Delta staff report to council, which states in part that the federal panel report “…. concludes that the project would result in numerous adverse residual and cumulative effects on the Roberts Bank ecosystem.”
Cannot be much clearer than that.
Furthermore in a recent letter received from Environment Minister Wilkinson he states, “My decision will also be based on science, facts and evidence.”
The science is overwhelming. Environment Canada’s own scientists have stated repeatedly the adverse environmental effects will be immediate, continuous and cannot be mitigated. In addition those same scientists have said the impacts on biofilm could have species-wide impacts on migratory birds. Doesn’t get much more adverse than that.
It’s also important to remember, in the public hearings and in all the documentation, there was not one scientist or expert independent of the port that supported or endorsed the port’s science.
So, is degrading the Roberts Bank ecosystem, relied on by millions of migratory and other shorebirds, endangered southern resident killer whales, salmon, other fish, crabs and other wildlife, justified in the circumstances? Certainly not, especially when, with all the container terminal capacity in operation or planned for the west coast of Canada, there is more than enough capacity for Canada’s trading needs for many years to come without ever building T2.
An annoying aspect of the port’s argument is its assertion that government is developing draft conditions based on the panel report and council should have waited. How does it know that? Is it “helping” the government to find ways to get T2 approved despite its noted adverse environmental effects? Is this not the project proponent interfering in the decision process?
The City of Delta has every right to call on Ottawa to reject T2. We should all commend the City of Delta for stating what many have been saying for years. Protect the Roberts Bank ecosystem and reject Roberts Bank Terminal 2.
Roger Emsley/Executive Director Against Port Expansion Community Group