Since June 2011, I have participated in a series of stakeholder and public consultations on the proposed expansion of Port Metro Vancouver’s terminal facility in Delta. The proposed 190 hectare expansion of the facility known as Roberts Bank Terminal Two will add 2.4 million TEU of container handling capacity to the port by 2024. A project of this magnitude will have positive and negative social, economic, and environmental impacts on our region.
In October of last year, Port Metro Vancouver presented some preliminary information about the project and its effects to solicit feedback from the community. The results of the feedback have been summarized and a report is available to download from Port Metro Vancouver’s website. The key themes that the Port heard through the consultations where:
Current and Future Impacts from Port Facilities:
At all stakeholder meetings, participants expressed concern about the impacts of existing port facilities at Roberts Bank to current and future air quality, noise and light pollution as well as to birds, fish and agricultural land. Participants asked that Port Metro Vancouver responsibly balance environmental, social and economic needs during project planning for the proposed Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project.
Project Need and Justification:
Participants questioned the accuracy of Port Metro Vancouver’s demand forecasts and justification for additional container capacity on the west coast of Canada. Some participants expressed interest in seeing additional capacity built in Prince Rupert or the use of short-sea-shipping as an alternative to building a new terminal. Others were interested in knowing whether current demand forecasts accounted for changes in shipping patterns following the opening of the recently expanded Panama Canal.
Participants asked for more information about the location, orientation and layout of the new terminal and the location of the intermodal yard.
Compensation and Mitigation:
Participants expressed concern about the loss of agricultural land that could result from the proposed Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project and were interested in knowing more about Port Metro Vancouver’s plan for mitigation, including potential locations for habitat banking opportunities.
Requests for More Information:
Participants expressed interest in having more information about the project, including having access to various project documents and studies and additional details about the environmental assessment process and baseline field studies currently underway.
Road and Rail Traffic:
Participants expressed concern about the potential increase in road and rail traffic as a result of the proposed Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project and asked that Port Metro Vancouver review options for improving the efficiency of container trucks to reduce the number of empty truck trips and eliminate unnecessary trips throughout Metro Vancouver.
Community Legacy Benefits:
Participants were interested in potential community benefits, including the possibilities for a cycling/pedestrian overpass, improvements to transit and contributions to the trail system on the foreshore at Roberts Bank.
One of the interesting key themes for me was potential community legacy benefits as a result of port expansion. Instead of asking for more roads, participants asked if the Port would contribute to expanding pedestrian, cycling, and transit facilities in the region. Our region if finally understanding that your need a multimodal transportation system to mitigate the effects of congestion including the increased traffic caused by the port.
Another key theme from the public consultations was to protect the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR). The majority of participants thought that the Port should minimize locating any Port facilities on farm land. Where the Port does impact the ALR, participants strongly agreed that the Port should improve existing agricultural land capability to mitigate the impact.
When asked about potential environmental impacts caused by port expansion, consultation participants almost unanimous supported protecting the marine ecosystems, terrestrial wildlife and vegetation. There was also strong support to study the impact of port expansion on noise, vibration, light pollution, air quality, energy use, and GHG emissions.
The next series of public consultations will focus on the pre-design elements of the project and its impact on the region based on feedback from this round of consultations.