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No economic need for Terminal 2 at Roberts Bank

The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, commonly known as Port Metro Vancouver (PMV), is moving forward with plans to extensively dredge the environmentally-sensitive estuary of the Fraser River to build another man-made island for a new terminal with t

The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, commonly known as Port Metro Vancouver (PMV), is moving forward with plans to extensively dredge the environmentally-sensitive estuary of the Fraser River to build another man-made island for a new terminal with three container berths.

The island will be 115 hectares (284 acres) plus an intermodal yard and a widened causeway with road and rail expansions. The project will impact 210 hectares (519 acres) of internationally-significant fish and wildlife habitat at Roberts Bank.

There is no economic or environmental justification for PMV to proceed with these plans.

PMV claims B.C. container traffic is expected to double over the next 10 to 15 years and throughput for PMV and Prince Rupert will almost triple by 2030.

Let's look at the facts: . PMV experienced zero growth in TEUs 2007 to 2011, with a 14 per cent decrease in 2009. PMV has been handling about 2.5 million TEUs annually since 2007 with 2.1 in 2009. There has been little growth in demand for several years. The world economic situation for containers is uncertain. PMV needs to justify the growth forecasts.

. Prince Rupert is an expanding container port which handled 400,000 TEUs in 2011.

. Existing B.C. port facilities are operating at about 60 per cent of utilization and PMV is operating at about 57 per cent utilization. Approximately 70 per cent of laden containers coming to the Lower Mainland are destined for elsewhere in Canada.

Approximately 10 per cent are destined for the United States and 20 per cent are B.C. bound.

. If there is growth, PMV and Prince Rupert have plenty of capacity without building a second terminal at Roberts Bank. With improved efficiencies and planned expansions in the inner harbour and Prince Rupert, the ports will be equipped to handle nine million TEUs by 2020 and at least 11 million by 2030. This level of capacity can meet PMV's most aggressive forecasts for 2030 container traffic. This is all without Terminal 2 at Roberts Bank.

A study commissioned by Port Metro Vancouver shows PMV is looking at the highest case scenario of growth, which is unrealistic. The current PMV statement is based on the "high case" forecast. To date, PMV has not even realized the "low case" forecasts.

The "low case" projection for 2011 was 3.02 million TEUs for PMV and Prince Rupert. The actual business for 2011 was 2.9 million TEUs (2.5 for PMV and .4 for Prince Rupert).

The lowest case projections for the Deltaport 's third berth in 2006 have not been realized. PMV forecast 2.8 to 3.5 million TEUs by 2010. This has still not been achieved.

The Worley Parsons Study of 2008 made forecasts of 5.53 million TEUs to 7.87 million TEUs by 2030 for Port Metro Vancouver terminals (does not include Prince Rupert). There is already capacity to handle five million TEUs in B.C. With planned upgrades at Centerm and efficiency improvements, the capacity can easily reach 7.8 million TEUs by 2030.

The Port of Prince Rupert has capacity for 750,000 TEUs with plans for two expansions that will increase capacity to two million TEUs and up to five million TEUs, respectively.

Prince Rupert and Port Metro Vancouver can build to a capacity of 11 to 12 million TEUS by 2030, without ever building Terminal 2. With a current need for 2.5 to three million TEUs, there are plenty of options for gradual growth, if it occurs.

The Worley Parsons Study of 2008 did not:

. Study in any depth the impact that Prince Rupert port will have on demand in Vancouver.

. Consider a scenario of continued lower growth due to the global economic situation.

. Explore options for enhancing supply of terminal capacity at the existing Vancouver terminals.

. Compare the economic and environmental costs of various options for capacity expansion in the region.

The results of the May 2011 Worley Parsons container traffic study have been over-stated to try and justify the need for Terminal 2.

The market study by Worley Parsons is inadequate to justify a $2 billion project. Alternatives can be undertaken at dramatically lower economic and environmental costs.

Economically it is cheaper, and environmentally sensible, to carry out earlier plans for expansions at Centerm and perhaps Vanterm in the deep sea Vancouver harbour before dredging internationally significant habitat at Roberts Bank.

Port Metro Vancouver is ignoring warnings from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans that: "there was no possible amount of mitigation projects they could envisage that would compensate for the environmental damage that T2 would cause."

Terminal 2 at Roberts Bank makes no economic sense and public assets will be exploited to fund an environmental disaster with the wilful destruction of orca, salmon and migratory bird habitat.

Susan Jones is a director of the Boundary Bay Conservation Committee and Against Port Expansion.