Coal port firm drops court battle against Metro Vancouver

Fraser Surrey Docks challenge of regional district's jurisdiction over air pollution abandoned for now but could resurface

The company aiming to build a new coal export terminal in Surrey has at least for now abandoned its court challenge of Metro Vancouver’s power to regulate industrial air pollution.

Fraser Surrey Docks had challenged Metro’s jurisdiction over air quality after it contested a $1,000 ticket Metro issued for the release of soybean dust while loading ships two years ago.

The legal dispute had raised fears that Metro might lose its authority to control industrial emissions from any federal lands, not just at Fraser Surrey Docks, which argued it answers only to Port Metro Vancouver.

But the case ended quietly June 11 when Fraser Surrey Docks paid the fine and dropped the challenge.

“We paid the ticket just to focus our priorities and resources on other areas,” Fraser Surrey Docks CEO Jeff Scott said. “We still have some clarity concerns around the jurisdiction. We still believe the port is our regulator.”

The terminal operator has warned Metro that it could resume that fight in the courts if Metro were to ticket or prosecute it for any future air quality violation.

Scott said Fraser Surrey Docks will voluntarily apply for an air quality permit from Metro covering its operations – it has not sought one until now despite Metro’s insistence one is required.

Ray Robb, Metro’s manager of environmental regulatory and enforcement services, said he wanted to see the region win in court.

“I’m disappointed that we didn’t go all the way with this one,” he said.

Robb said he believes Metro had a strong case, which has now been bolstered for the future because the company admitted its guilt in court and paid the ticket.

Nor is Metro shrinking away from further enforcement even though a new ticket could reignite the court challenge.

“We’ve advised them that continued discharge without a permit is contrary to our bylaw and they face the risk of potential further action,” Robb said.

“We remain of the opinion that our bylaws do apply. Their purpose is to protect human health. We will continue to pursue compliance with our bylaws.”

As for how quickly the controversial Surrey coal terminal – opposed by various groups and municipalities – could be up and running, Scott estimates January 2017 at the earliest, if all goes smoothly.

That would assume a construction start by this winter.

Before that can happen, Fraser Surrey Docks needs to get Port Metro Vancouver approval for its revised plan to load ocean-going ships directly in Surrey, rather than first barging coal to a transfer site at Texada Island as set out in the permit issued a year ago.

Environmental groups have said they don’t believe the $15-million coal export terminal will be economically viable after the recent plunge in coal prices, which has prompted many mines to curtail operations.

Scott acknowledged coal and other commodity markets are suffering right now, but added demand is expected to improve by the time the new terminal opens.

“We do believe there is a market in the future and that within the next couple of years we would see a resurgence and upward swing.”

The proposed coal terminal also faces court challenges from Ecojustice on behalf of Communities and Coal, as well as the Musqueam First Nation.

If built, the terminal would mean one additional coal train per day rolling through White Rock, South Surrey and Delta, delivering four million tonnes of U.S. coal per year, although critics fear it would expand further.

Just Posted

Crashes pile up as snow blankets Surrey

Up to 10 centimetres of snow is in the forecast

How much does your city spend per person on snow removal?

Black Press Media compares 2018 ice and snow removal budgets of various Lower Mainland communities

B.C. BUDGET: Surplus $374 million after bailouts of BC Hydro, ICBC

Growth projected stronger in 2020, Finance Minister Carole James says

Surrey pastor in concert with songs from her new ‘Psalms for a Peaceful Heart’ CD

‘Incredible’ church sanctuary in Whalley a stage for Lori-Anne Boutin-Crawford’s music

Plan to redevelop former Surrey motel site too dense, says Coun. Pettigrew

Pettigrew: ‘We need to build liveable community with green spaces… not massive zones that are densified’

VIDEO: 8 things you need to know about the 2019 B.C. budget

Surplus of $247 million with spending on children, affordability and infrastructure

Ex-Langley spiritual leader cleared of stock trading allegations

Investors allegedly lost $740,000 investing through a local religious organization.

‘Bullet missed me by an inch’: Man recounts friend’s killing at Kamloops hotel

Penticton man witnessed Summerland resident Rex Gill’s murder in Kamloops

B.C. BUDGET: Income assistance raise still leaves many below poverty line

$50 per month increase included in funding for poverty and homelessness reduction

B.C. BUDGET: Indigenous communities promised billions from gambling

Extended family caregiver pay up 75 per cent to keep kids with relatives

B.C. BUDGET: New benefit increases family tax credits up to 96 per cent

BC Child Opportunity Benefit part of province’s efforts to reduce child poverty

B.C. BUDGET: Carbon tax boosts low-income credits, electric vehicle subsidies

Homeowners can get up to $14,000 for heating, insulation upgrades

B.C. man survives heart attack thanks to Facebook

A Princeton man suffered a heart attack while at an isolated property with no cell service

Abbotsford man sues Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party over trademark

Satinder Dhillon filed application for trademark same day Maxime Bernier announced the new party

Most Read