The proposed terminal at Roberts Bank would be roughly 5.5 km offshore.

The proposed terminal at Roberts Bank would be roughly 5.5 km offshore.

Deltaport expansion coming to open house meetings

Massive project off Roberts Bank aims to increase container capacity

Port Metro Vancouver is inviting the public to look at plans for a second Deltaport terminal 5.5 kilometers off the shore of Roberts Bank in Delta to meet its projected container capacity for 2030.

“It’s another update on something we’ve been talking about a long time,” says Robin Silvester, Port of Metro Vancouver’s president and CEO. “It fundamentally comes down to our long-term forecast of container traffic requirements and demands of container capacity.”

Silvester referred to the public meetings as phase two of a very broad public consultation program, about a year after first floating the idea to the public.

The project update includes a design concept and potential ways to mitigate environmental impact to an area widely considered one of Western Canada’s largest wetlands and migratory bird habitats.

That issue concerns Delta South MLA Vicki Huntington, who last week said she was disappointed the newly designated Fraser River Delta Ramsar Site does not include Roberts Bank.

“Well, the reason they [the federal government] didn’t include Roberts Bank in the Ramsar site is obviously they knew full well that they were moving forward on the next phase of Terminal two construction,” says Huntington.

A year ago the province proposed 8,700 hectares of Roberts Bank as a protected Wildlife Management Area, but not any of the land between the two causeways, including Tsawwassen First Nation land and water lots.

Huntington says that was a political decision.

“The Port has a lot of influence and say on whether or not there will or won’t be a Wildlife Management Area,” says Huntington, describing the area as a bubble zone immune to environmental protections.

But Robin Silvester says a full environmental assessment will take place long before a single shovel hits the ground.

“I think, very understandably, people will want to know how we’re going to mitigate the environmental impact of building another container terminal,” says Silvester. “We’ve already done a lot of work on that. We already have a very good track record of successfully mitigating environmental changes in that area.”

Port Metro Vancouver moved 2.5 million TEUs (20-foot equivalent unit containers) in 2011 through its terminals in Vancouver and Delta. The expansion site would see Deltaport move nearly that many TEUs by 2030 just on its own.

“As the population grows, as the economy grows, the need for container trade grows to underpin all of our quality of life,” says Silvester.

The construction of the new terminal is estimated to create direct, indirect and induced employment worth 4,500 jobs over the six year project, worth $1.14 billion in wages, and add $1.63 billion to the Canadian economy.

After completion, Port Metro Vancouver estimates Deltaport will directly employ 9,200 people worth $440 million in annual wages, and general a total economic output of $3.1 billion.

Silvester says the creation of the South Fraser Perimeter Road and recent announcement of a replacement for the George Massey Tunnel will ease congestion associated with the increased container traffic.

Several stakeholder meetings and open houses will soon take place between Oct. 23 and Nov. 8 across several cities. The first open house is at Hilton Vancouver Airport in Richmond Oct. 25 from 6-9 p.m., followed by one in Delta on Oct. 27 at the Town and Country Inn from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

An open house in Surrey happens at the Northview Golf and Country Club Nov. 1 from 6-9 p.m. A second open house in Delta will be at the Coast Tsawwassen Inn Nov. 6 from 6-9 p.m. The last open house will be in Langley at the Newlands Golf and Country Club from 6-9 p.m.

To register as a stakeholder, email container.improvement@portmetrovancouver.com or call 604-665-9337.

[This story has been updated to correct a name spelling error.]

Surrey North Delta Leader