November 30, 2020

Port of Vancouver’s Deltaport Terminal Two Expansion Decision Deferred

It has been frustrating watching the proposed shipping container terminal expansion at Deltaport near Tsawwassen. This is the  Port of Vancouver’s jurisdiction. They are stickhandling the Terminal 2 expansion proposal through the review process. The Port hopes to create more  turf by drivepiling a new industrial island  in waters off Roberts Bank. This is on the traditional  territory of the Tsawwassen First Nations. That black area you see in the photo above is Deltaport’s coal terminal.

It is Vancouver Port’s dirty secret~American ports on the west coast refuse to ship thermal coal for environmental reasons. But not the Port of Vancouver, which has doubled thermal coal exports in nine years to over 11 million tons. This dirty American coal also moves tariff free.

The Port was relentless in their pursuit of the Terminal 2 prize expansion, despite the fact that Roberts Bank is one of the few places on the planet for the migrating western sandpipers going to their spring Arctic breeding grounds. As I have already written these birds feed solely on an algae that is only available on these mudflats.

That algae cannot be moved or replaced, meaning that this important bird migration on the Pacific Flyway would be annihilated with port expansion. Extinct.

 Larry Pynn in The Province pointed out that the written response from Environment and Climate Change Canada to the Canadian Environment Assessment Agency clearly outlined the catastrophic impact of a new terminal eradicating this sandpiper feeding area. Their exact words were Among the findings, the panel report also notes there would be “significant adverse and cumulative effects on wetlands and wetland functions at Roberts Bank.”

Environment Canada was not happy, and it was at this time Global Containers (GCT), Deltaport Terminal’s operator did a bait and switch, stating that the proposed Terminal 2 complex at Roberts Banks was “outmoded and no longer viable.”

Sadly, abandoning this terminal expansion and working smarter (this is the only major port on the Pacific Coast that does not work on a 24 hour basis)  was not something proposed by Global Containers Terminal (GCT) .

Instead they want to do their own pile driving to expand their existing docks, fattening and widening it up so that it too would further extend into the sensitive migratory bird feeding grounds.

There has been a continuing advertising campaign on their proposed dock expansion mounted by GCT on all kinds of media, including a paid or “sponsored” article in Vancouver is Awesome, with twitter follow up referring to the article as if it was an independently written piece. I contacted the editor of Vancouver Is Awesome to find out this was paid content.  GCT also paid for sponsored content in Business in Vancouver.

It is part of a  campaign to sway the public that a fatter, wider bulky growth of the existing terminal is ever so much better than the establishment of a new terminal. The truth is, as Sandor Gyarmati pointed out, that some of the cargo is discretionary and could be shipped to any American port. There are  “changing world patterns, increased protectionism, and shifts in marketing supply chains”. 

A federal  decision on whether the new terminal would go ahead at Deltaport  was expected in November. But the port asked for more time for public consultations and planning, and the Minister of Environment and Climate Change deferred a final decision into 2021. Meanwhile both the Cities of Richmond and Delta have written to the Prime Minister of Canada asking that the application be flat out denied.

You can take a look at the Port of Vancouver’s YouTube video below promoting the new Terminal 2 Project at Deltaport.


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