Thursday, October 25, 2012

Port Metro Vancouver - Terminal Two Update

Last summer, Port Metro Vancouver began a series of public consultations on a proposed 190 hectare expansion of its terminal facility in Delta, known as the Roberts Bank Terminal Two project. The project will add 2.4 million TEU of container handling capacity to the Port by 2024. As a note, in the same time period the Prince Rupert Port Authority will also be adding up to 2 million TEU of container handling capacity in the same time period. Port Metro Vancouver will be holding public consultations and open houses which it hopes to conclude in 2016.

Last night, I was at their latest public consultation. The Terminal Two project will impact at least 210 hectares of the marine environment and at least 10 hectares of the agricultural land reserve (ALR), so environmental mitigation will be a major part of this project. I asked if it was possible to both expand the Port and improve the ecosystem at the same time. The Port mention that the Deltaport Third Birth project was an example of where they believe both the economy and the environment benefited. One of the unique projects that the Port has started is something called a land bank. They will work with partners to restore eco-systems in Metro Vancouver and maintain them to compensate for the eco-systems impacted by future projects like the Terminal Two project. The interesting thing about the land bank is that it is proactive and could give the Port an improved land credit. Port Metro Vancouver is the first port in Canada to have an Environmental Management Division.

On the subject of environmental protection, I asked about how the Harper government’s wholesale change of environmental protection legislation will impact the proposed expansion. I was told that they don’t know as of yet, but if the standards are weaker the Port would likely stick to the regulations. The problem with new environmental rules is that instead of focusing on fish habitat it will only focus on the fish themselves.

When it comes to the ALR, the Port also plans to improve farming in the region to compensate for the loss of farmland which will be used to expand the rail facilities around the Port. I asked them if the Port has any interest in the Tsawwassen First Nation (TFN) plan which will see farm land converted into industrial land. Apparently the Port has no interest in the TFN plan.

One of the direct impacts of the Port is on the transportation system in Metro Vancouver. The Port has worked on a new truck reservation system which is meant to reduce truck congestions and idling by assigning timeslots for truck loading/unloading and by building a series of truck staging areas. Of course two of the major projects to help the Port are the South Fraser Perimeter Road and the Roberts Bank Rail Corridor overpass projects. The Port did not mention anything about the Port Mann/Highway 1 project, but did talk about the Province’s new announcement of expanding the George Massey Tunnel. I asked if the tunnel expansion will help the Port with goods movement and was told “no.”

Besides the regulatory requirement to protect the environment, the Port will also start a community legacy fund for the project. It will basically be a pool of money for communities to spend. No plan on how the money will be spent has been finalized. Finally, the Terminal Two project is expected to cost over $2 billion and will likely be funded by private money. I’ll certainly be following this project as it progresses through public consultation.

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