Monday, February 3, 2014

Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project Pre-Design Consultation Summary

For the last several years, Port Metro Vancouver has been going through a consultation process for the proposed Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project. This project will see a new three-berth container terminal at Deltaport and will increase the container handling ability of the Port by 2.4 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent unit containers) annually.

The Port’s consultation process is in addition to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency review process which starting in earnest this January.

As part of the Port’s consultation process, they hosted a series of open houses and small group meetings late last year. The feedback received from the open houses and meetings have been summarized with a report which can be downloaded. The main themes from the public consultation are:

Road and rail traffic: Participants expressed concerns regarding the local impacts of increased truck and train traffic as a result of the proposed project, including increased congestion, air pollution and noise impacts. There were also questions raised about whether or not existing transportation infrastructure could accommodate an increase in traffic and whether there were ways to put more containers directly onto trains.

Scope and nature of the environmental assessment: Participants were interested in understanding the scope and nature of the environmental assessment, including an assessment of the economic, social and environmental impacts of the proposed project. Some participants also wanted more information and clarification about the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency’s public comment period on the Project Description.

Alternatives to the proposed Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project: Participants expressed concerns that alternatives to the project have not been adequately considered and that options for increasing container capacity on Canada’s West Coast should be focused on Prince Rupert and Fraser Surrey Docks, and on creating efficiency improvements at existing container terminals within Port Metro Vancouver’s jurisdiction. Several participants also questioned whether the removal of the George Massey Tunnel would allow more and larger container ships to access Fraser Surrey Docks.

Habitat banking: Some participants raised questions about Port Metro Vancouver’s Habitat Banking Program and the manner in which the Program could be used to mitigate the impacts of the proposed Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project. There was also the suggestion that Port Metro Vancouver consult with local naturalists and environmental groups to learn about their preferences regarding habitat mitigation and enhancement projects.

Project justification and rationale: Participants expressed skepticism regarding the validity of Port Metro Vancouver’s container traffic forecast and requested more information about the forecast data and the business case for the project.

Environmental impacts: Participants expressed concerns about the environmental impacts of the proposed Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project on the Fraser River estuary, particularly related to bird and fish species in the area, and suggested that Port Metro Vancouver consider opportunities to preserve and showcase the natural environment at Roberts Bank.

Maybe I’m a bit cynical, but I’m 100% sure that this project will be approved. I hope that the Port will address the concerns brought forward by people in our region. I also hope that the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency will require the Port to mitigate the negative impacts from the proposed expansion of their facility in Delta including the increased rail traffic that will go through communities like Langley.

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