Roberts Bank Terminal 2 – Update

Roberts Bank Terminal 2 – Update

Submitted by Adele Liu

Roger Emsley, Executive Director of Against Port Expansion Community Group, has sent out the following message to the group:

An article written by Colin Laughlan, largely critical of Robin Silvester and the manner in which the Port of Vancouver is pushing for approval of the RBT2 project, has just been published in the Maritime Magazine. You can read the article from this LINK.

Conservation groups from Canada and elsewhere, scientists expert in wetland ecology, citizen scientists, the cities of Delta, Richmond and White Rock and others have all registered strong opposition to the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority’s project to build a second container terminal on Roberts Bank.

All the science facts and evidence demonstrate that RBT2 will result in significant adverse environmental effects that cannot be mitigated with the potential to drive wildlife species towards eventual extinction.

After the close of the most recent and final comment period, which ended March 15 2022, Vancouver Fraser Port Authority (VFPA) submitted rebuttals to the thousands of opposing submissions to their project. The last VFPA submission, dated June 10 2022, was an attempt to push back against the science facts and evidence submitted by Environment Canada scientists, as well as research published in peer-reviewed science journals that demonstrates the RBT2 project will negatively impact the salinity trigger which is the driver for producing diatoms rich in fatty acids in the biofilm on Roberts Bank. This biofilm is relied on by migratory shorebirds during their northward migration and is the very foundation of the food web in the Fraser Estuary, supporting also millions of other shorebirds and other wildlife and the biodiversity of Roberts Bank. 

During the final comment period over 16,000 opposing submissions were sent in to the Impact Assessment Agency, solidifying the huge level of opposition that exists across the spectrum.

The VFPA exercises a significant lobbying presence in Ottawa that continues to promote the myth that West Coast Canada will run out of container terminal capacity as early as 2025. This despite concrete evidence from terminal operators that in fact there exists over 1 million spare container terminal capacity, sufficient to meet trading needs into the 2030s. By that time already planned container terminal expansions in Vancouver and Prince Rupert will have come to fruition such that RBT2 – at a cost of $3.5 billion plus – will never be needed. In fact full container loads moving through Vancouver area ports are down by 13% for the first half of 2022, when compared to the same period in 2021. Clearly there is no way Vancouver will run out of terminal capacity anytime soon

The federal government has maintained a wall of silence since the latest VFPA submissions. Letters to the Minister Environment and Climate Change Canada and to other members of the federal cabinet go unanswered. 

VFPA has indicated it expects a final decision from Ottawa by the fall 2022. This decision, when it comes is almost certainly going to be made by Governor in Council (federal cabinet) which will have to rule whether the project is likely to result in significant adverse environmental effects which cannot be mitigated and if so whether or not the project is justified in the circumstances.

It is obvious that RBT2 will result in significant adverse environmental effects that cannot be mitigated and further there is no economic or business justification for this terminal to be built – ever.

Let’s make sure the federal government gets that message and acts on the science evidence and facts to deny approval for RBT2.

Roger Emsley, Executive Director, Against Port Expansion Community Group

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