OUR VIEW: No surprise in PMV’s coal facility decision

With Port Metro Vancouver (PMV) finally rendering its decision about the proposed coal facility for Fraser Surrey Docks (FSD), was anyone really surprised?

For some reason, it took them two years to come to a decision that pretty much everyone expected to go through and quite frankly, we wish they hadn’t wasted everyone’s time.

From our perspective, PMV allowed this to drag on in an effort to appear as if they consulted and listened to the various communities and local governments that took issue with the project.

Information sessions were held, visits were made to local government council meetings and feedback periods were opened up in order to allow citizens and municipalities a chance to voice their opinions on the proposed facility.

And despite the vast majority of those voices either being in opposition or taking issue with the unknowns regarding human health and the facility, the project was still approved.

For the cynics out there, the whole process was standard procedure.

White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin put it best by saying, "Port Metro Vancouver’s mandate is to make money and to create jobs and this does probably both. The fact that it disturbs our community greatly is not a concern of theirs necessarily, so I understand how these things work."

And that’s basically the gist of the situation. By taking more than two years to come to this decision, PMV can say that they’ve done an extensive review, consulted with communities, local governments and all the rest. By definition, consultation is the act of receiving feedback and by that merit, PMV certainly did engage in consultation.

Nowhere does it say the feedback has to be acted upon.

The only beneficial thing to come out of this process was a somewhat half-hearted response to the overwhelming concern by adding another spray process during the coal’s transportation. But without a thorough health-impact assessment declaring how the 640 annual coal train trips (which jumps to 1,280 trips in years two to five) could affect the people living nearby, that’s of little relief to those concerned.

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