Against Port Expansion in the Fraser Estuary BC
APE (Against Port Expansion in the Fraser Estuary BC) is a group of concerned citizens who recognize that plans for container terminal expansion on Roberts Bank (RBT2) will see the loss of globally-significant wetlands and habitat (classified as a Globally Significant Important Bird and Biodiversity Area - IBA) for migratory birds, shorebirds, waterfowl, salmon, herring, crabs and orca whales; degradation of the quality of life for thousands of Lower Mainland residents; and the industrialization of prime agricultural land.
Political Interference Undermines the RBT2 Environmental Assessment
Today the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Environmental Assessment Panel announced that it has closed the public record and will no longer accept any further submissions. During this last phase the Panel will now develop and submit its final report, likely to be delivered to the federal Environment Minister by the end of 2019.
Whilst many individuals, groups and agencies submitted their closing remarks to the Panel, there was one that was missing. There are no closing remarks from Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC). The ECCC scientists certainly prepared their closing remarks, underlining their concerns that RBT2 will result in significant adverse environmental effects that cannot be mitigated. However the Panel never got to see these. Why, because it appears senior federal bureaucrats were intent on derailing the final definitive scientific statements from Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) to the Panel.
So somewhere in Ottawa a decision was made. None of the federal agencies would submit closing remarks – except one, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority (VFPA). Thus the VFPA submission, which aims to minimize and discount the environmental impacts, goes unchallenged.
This is just the latest of a number of political interferences. Throughout the RBT2 process federal bureaucrats have muffled ECCC research findings and recommendations while the reports from the paid VFPA's consultants promoting RBT2 have been under no such censure. We have even tried the Freedom of Information route to uncover this interference, but 11 months after making the FOI request we have received nothing.
The RBT2 environmental assessment was supposed to be transparent and fair. It was neither.
The Panel received 39 closing remarks from individuals, environmental groups and others. 34 expressed outright opposition to the project and three identified significant concerns. One submission was from the proponent (also containing three consent letters from First Nations) and only one, from the BC Chamber of Commerce, supported the project.
Not only that but the VFPA closing remarks take direct aim at ECCC. Rare for one government agency to criticize another one, VFPA tries to discredit and disparage the ECCC scientists. Three of a number of examples of disparaging and negative statements about ECCC in the VFPA closing remarks include:
“The VFPA’s position is that ECCC’s description of the changes in salinity on Roberts Bank that will result from the Project as ‘an overall regime shift’ is a strong mischaracterization”
"The VFPA submits that ECCC has not been scientifically objective in its review of the VFPA studies and assessments”.
“It is in this context of the history outlined above that the VFPA asks that the Review Panel treat the evidence of CWS, that there would be a “species-level risk” to WESA as a result of the Project due to impacts to biofilm, with a high degree of caution and scepticism. Due to ECCC’s demonstrated lack of consistency on this issue, it would be inappropriate to rely fully on ECCC’s conclusions.”
The key issue revolves around internationally cutting-edge revelations about the special types of diatoms in biofilm on the mud of Roberts Bank - now understood to be the irreplaceable source of essential fatty acids and energy for an entire shorebird species, the Western Sandpiper, and other wildlife, including salmon, whose level of richness is unique to Roberts Bank. Government scientists have consistently shown that if the project were to go ahead there will be irreparable changes to the Roberts Bank diatoms in the biofilm, with diatoms and fatty acid production being immediately impacted.
APE and Boundary Bay Conservation Committee are pushing back.
Read their reports here:
Then take action. The environment is a top issue in the federal election. Talk to the candidates running in your riding about this project and how its assessment has been undermined.
Birdlife International Opposes RBT2
The Fraser River Delta is one of British Columbia’s most vital habitats for migratory shorebirds, and the site of a major discovery about how shorebirds feed. BirdLife International has now joined in opposing the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority's proposed project to add a second container terminal on Roberts Bank in British Columbia.
Birdlife International is a global partnership of conservation organisations (NGOs) that strives to conserve birds, their habitats and global biodiversity, working with people towards sustainability in the use of natural resources.
Birdlife International is recognized as the world leader in bird conservation.
The next step with this project is for the Review Panel to send a report and recommendations to the Federal Government. It will be a huge international embarrassment for Canada if the federal government were to do anything other than stop the project.
To add your voice to the opposition go here to sign this petition.
Could proposed RBT2 become an Oil Terminal?
Action in Time warns of irreversible environmental impacts to the Fraser River Estuary and Salish Sea if a massive man-made island is built for a Shipping Terminal at Roberts Bank.