Port expansion talks underway

Residents shape upcoming public consultation process

Deltaport's new Third Berth opened in January of last year. Port Metro Vancouver is currently holding pre-consultation meetings to discuss another expansion at Roberts Bank.

Residents are being asked how they would like to be consulted and on what topics when it comes to another Deltaport expansion.

The proposed Terminal 2 project, part of Port Metro Vancouver’s Container Capacity Improvement Program, would add another multi-berth container terminal at Roberts Bank. With an expected capacity of two million TEUs (twenty foot equivalent units) per year, the port authority anticipates the addition would meet growing import and export demand in the Pacific Gateway.

About 20 people representing agricultural, environmental, business, First Nation and personal interests gathered for a round-table discussion at Coast Tsawwassen Hotel on Wednesday (June 8). Facilitated by Kirk & Co. consulting firm, the pre-consultation meeting focused on topics residents want to include in the consultation phase.

Several participants hoped to learn how Terminal 2 will benefit the local economy.

“Tsawwassen’s a beautiful town surrounded by farmland, but it’s a bedroom community and what we need here is jobs,” said resident Don Watson. “How many jobs are going to be produced … And how many of those jobs are going to be available to people in Tsawwassen?”

Brad Cooper, of the Ladner Business Association, wanted to know what the economic impact will be on small businesses. He said the LBA is already worried construction of the South Fraser Perimeter Road may “sideline” small communities.

“The business community in Ladner, specifically, is concerned about that and of course the impact on small businesses,” Cooper said.

He said the current economic benefit from the Deltaport “is not small by any means” but wants to know what to expect in the future.

Others want to know how the port authority plans to mitigate environmental impact. Local environmentalist and Leader columnist Anne Murray said the area around the port is a vital habitat for shore birds, waterfowl and migratory birds.

“They’re common birds, but they’re important birds for this area,” she said.

Roger Emsley of the citizen group Against Port Expansion (APE) pointed to a 1979 federal environmental assessment review which recommended against development in the area.

“What has changed in terms of the environment that makes it acceptable now if it wasn’t acceptable then?” he asked.

Meanwhile, agricultural representatives want to know how Terminal 2 will affect traffic patterns, drainage, irrigation and air quality. Other people, such as Tsawwassen First Nation elder Ruth Adams, suggested the port authority introduce buses to transport workers to and from the future terminal.

Resident Julie Hobart asked if the port authority would abandon the project if economic forecasts show demand is falling.

“The global economy has changed a lot in the last year and, if this continues, surely then we won’t be needing the kind of products we would in Canada that we have in the past,” she said.

Cliff Stewart, director of infrastructure development at Port Metro Vancouver, explained it is a 10-year process from the preliminary stages until you can tie up and unload a ship.

“We’re starting it now because if we need it in 10 years we’re on the critical path. If we don’t need it then we can stop the process,” he said.

The port authority projects container traffic through B.C.’s West Coast will double over the next 10 to 15 years and nearly triple by 2030.

While the scope, scale and location of Terminal 2 has yet to be determined, the port expects the project will be constructed adjacent to the Deltaport and Westshore terminals in phases, based on market conditions.

After the pre-consultation meeting, participants filled out feedback forms to help shape the scope and content of future consultations. The feedback form can also be submitted online at www.portmetrovancouver.com.

An independent environmental assessment must occur before construction can begin. Port Metro Vancouver will also carry out seven rounds of public consultations over the next six years.


Surrey North Delta Leader

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