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/KBA and under threat) 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.
Building Roberts Bank Terminal 2 in the Fraser Estuary means:
- Upsetting Roberts Bank’s natural chemistry
- Destroying the unique quality of its intertidal biofilm
- Breaking the chain of the Pacific Flyway
- Destroying a key refueling stop for migratory birds
- Further declines in the western sandpiper population towards eventual species extinction
- Pushing Orca whales towards their eventual extinction
- Putting juvenile salmon at increased risk
- Further declines in commercial crabbing
- Infringing on First Nations livelihoods and cultural practices
- Increased air, noise and light pollution
- More traffic congestion caused by Port truck traffic
For What? A new $4-6 billion container terminal that can never be economically justified, because there are better cheaper alternatives to satisfy Canada’s trading needs. Demand governments stop this. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and copy email@example.com
On April 20 2023 the federal cabinet approved RBT2, effectively signing the death certificate for the Fraser Estuary. The BC Government gave its approval on September 28 2023.
Dear Against Port Expansion Community Group Supporters and Members of the Public:
October 13, 2023
Governments Have Betrayed The Environmental Values of the Fraser Estuary
As Executive Director of Against Port Expansion Community Group I write to you, APE Supporters and Members of the Public, after reflecting on the BC Government's approval of Roberts Bank Terminal 2 (RBT2), which effectively ends attempts to stop RBT2 within the federal and provincial legislative framework established to carry out environmental assessments and make decisions. This environmentally disastrous, unnecessary and uneconomic project can still be stopped. Read the letter to find out what you can do to stop the Fraser Estuary from breaching its environmental tipping point.
Read the full letter here:
Below is a summary and dateline of the RBT2 project. It was approved:
- Over a mountain of opposition;
- With political interference
- Ignoring Environment Canada scientists’ concerns
- Ignoring significant wide ranging credible research and science, much of it published in peer-reviewed science journals, demonstrating the project’s significant adverse environmental effects that cannot be mitigated.
- Ignoring the facts and evidence.
Major environmental groups, scientists expert in their field, citizen scientists, the Cities of Delta, Richmond and White Rock, MPs, members of the public rose up and voiced their opposition to RBT2. As the final phase of the environmental assessment concluded that opposition grew and grew. The politicians ignored all of that and by approving the project signed the death certificate for what little remains of the natural habitat in the Fraser Estuary and the wildlife that relies on it.
WHEN IT WAS APPROVED THESE WERE THE CABINET MINISTERS KNOWN TO HAVE SUPPORTED RBT2: MESSRS WILKINSON, ALGHABRA, SAJJAN AND CHAMPAGNE
THESE CABINET MINISTERS WERE KNOWN TO OPPOSE RBT2: GUILBEAULT, QUALTROUGH, MURRAY
BUT THEN TRUDEAU SHUFFLED HIS CABINET.
THESE ARE THE MINISTERS STILL IN CABINET. EMAIL EACH OF THEM, ASK THEM TO EXPLAIN WHY THEY IGNORED SCIENCE FACTS AND EVIDENCE AND DEMAND THEY REVIST THEIR APPROVAL
FRANCOIS- PHILIPPE CHAMPAGNE: firstname.lastname@example.org
TELL THEM TO HONOUR THE AGREEMENTS CANADA HAS SIGNED TO PROTECT THE ENVIRONMENT (MOST RECENTLY AT THE UN BIODIVERSITY CONFERENCE). TELL THEM TO REVERSE THE RBT2 APPROVAL.
THIS IS THE TORTUOUS PATH THAT LED TO RBT2 APPROVAL
MARCH 2023 STILL NO DECISION - AFTER EIGHT YEARS !!
- MAR. 27 2020 THE FEDERALLY-APPOINTED REVIEW PANEL PUBLISHED ITS REPORT IDENTIFIYING SIGNIFICANT ADVERSE ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS IN MANY AREAS SHOULD RBT2 BE BUILT.
- AUG. 24 2020 THE FEDERAL ENVIRONMENT MINISTER PAUSED THE DECiSiON PROCESS AND ASKED THE PORT FOR MORE INFORMATION.
- AUG. 28 2020 THE PORT SAYS IT WILL HAVE COMPLETED GATHERING THE ADDITIONAL INFORMATION PRIOR TO YEAR END
- NOV. 5 2020 THE PORT SAYS IT WILL NOT PROVIDE THE INFORMATION UNTIL SUMMER 2021.
- SEP 24 2021 PORT PROVIDED ITS RESPONSE
- DEC 15 GOVERNMENT PROVIDED A DRAFT OF POTENTIAL CONDITIONS FOR APPROVAL AND OPENED FINAL ROUND OF PUBLIC COMMENT
- MAR 15 2022 PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD CLOSED WITH THOUSANDS OF OPPOSING SUBMISSIONS
- APR 22 2022 PORT RESPONDED TO SOME OF THE OPPOSING SUBMISSIONS, BUT NOT ON THE KEY ISSUE, BIOFILM
- JUNE 10 2022 PORT RESPONDED ON THE BIOFILM ISSUE. SAME OLD FLAWED SCIENCE, PROMOTING BIOFILM REPLACEMENT WHEN INTERNATIONALLY RECOGNIZED SCIENCE SAYS THIS IS IMPOSSIBLE ON THE SCALE NECESSARY TO REPLACE WHAT WILL BE LOST
- SEPTEMBER 2022 - A WALL OF SILENCE REMAINS OVER OTTAWA ON RBT2
- OCTOBER 26 2022 - ENVIRONMENT CANADA RESPONDS TO THE VFPA WITH A DETAILED ANALYSIS DEMONSTRATING YET AGAIN THAT RBT2 WILL RESULT IN SIGNIFICANT ADVERSE ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS THAT CANNOT BE MITIGATED. ECCC SCIENTISTS STATE:
"Given the importance of the Roberts Bank site for the Western Sandpiper, the nutritional requirements for fatty acids of migrating shorebirds, and the predicted effects of the Project on biofilm quantity and quality, ECCC continues to advise that the changes predicted as a result of the Project, as currently designed, would likely constitute an unmitigable species-level risk to Western Sandpipers, and shorebirds more generally".
- January 23 2023 Ottawa decides it has all the information it needs to make a decision
- Febuary 2023 - The RBT2 Decision is with the Federal Cabinet acting as Governor in Council
- April 3 2023 Still waiting for a decision from Ottawa. Three cabinent ministers are known to support it. Amazing!!!
- April 20 2023. The federal government approves terminal 2 stating
" I (Environment Minister) have determined that the Designated Project (RBT2) is likely to cause significant adverse environmental effectsreferred to in subsection 5(1) of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012.
In accordance with paragraph 52(4)(a) of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012, the Governor in Council (Federal Cabinet) decided that the significant adverse environmental effects referred to in subsection 5(1) that the Designated Project is likely to cause are justified in the circumstances.
THE FIGHT IS NOT OVER
THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IGNORED ITS OWN SCIENTISTS AND THEIR CONCERNS.
WE NEED YOUR HELP. EMAIL THE PRIME MINISTER AND DEMAND HE REVERSE THIS DECISION. email@example.com
The govenrment has the science, facts and evidence. Its own scientists say RBT2 will result in significant adverse environmental effects that cannot be mitigated. How much more does the government need to reject this project?
KEEP THE PRESSURE ON THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT
TELL THEM YOU WILL NOT ACCEPT RBT2 BEING APPROVED.
WRITE TO MINISTER GUILBEAULT. SELECT COPY & PRINT THIS
Attention Minister Steven Guilbeault:
Roberts Bank Terminal 2 (RBT2) is environmentally unsustainable.
Environment and Climate Change Canada scientists have consistently characterized the negative environmental impacts of the RBT2 project as permanent, irreversible and continuous, disrupting and eliminating quality fatty acid production from diatoms in biofilm across Roberts Bank by dampening and reducing salinity. These particular fatty acids are absolutely required by Western Sandpipers and disrupting their production may also have negative implications for salmon and crab production, as well as eulachon a major part of Indigenous heritage. Many international scientists agree, as do Birds Canada, Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network, BC Nature, Nature Canada and others.
I am opposed to RBT2 and petition you and Cabinet to reverse your approval for this project.
AND MAIL TO
Minister Steven Guilbeault POST FREE
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario, K1A0A6
See what others are doing to stop RBT2:
1. Fraser Delta in the International spotlight. Birdlife Interantional has joined the fight to stop RBT2.
2. In May 2022 The Garden City Conservation Society published a comprehenisive analysis of all that is wrong with the RBT2 project, under the title Stop RBT2 - To Enable Success, and sent it to the federal Environment Minister and the Cabinet
3. A video by Ranincoast Conservation
4. Natural Legacies versus Waste
5. Fraser Voices
6. Georgia Strait Alliance
At last – a science based review of RBT2
One of the conditions (10.4) of approval for the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 (RBT2) project was that the Impact Assessment Agency Canada (IAAC) establish an Independent Scientific Body to provide advice on what are the baseline conditions for the biofilm and salinity on Roberts Bank, to review how the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority (VFPA) plans to monitor them and what impacts RBT2 will cause to biofilm, salinity and Western Sandpipers, as well as to establish threshold exceedences.
IAAC has now set up the Scientific Body and established its terms of reference. Chaired by Ottawa’s Chief Science Advisor of Canada (who by the way reports to Minister Champagne, an avowed supporter of RBT2) the Body’s has five members in addition to its chairperson. All five of the members are professionals in their field, with three of them coming from universities outside of Canada, one from University of Ottawa and one from University of Calgary.
You can read the terms of reference here:
And its membership here:
In addition to work performed by these five experts the scientific body is permitted to call in external consultants.
The VFPA has long been trying to duck science-based monitoring because they well realize RBT2 will result in significant adverse environmental effects that cannot be mitigated. So if this independent body is allowed to do its work without interference finally RBT2 will be assessed using credible peer reviewed science.
But the question has to be asked, why is Ottawa still spending taxpayer funds on RBT2?
The Roberts Bank Terminal 2 (RBT2) project has no entity bidding to build it, no operator wanting to run it, yet Ottawa is still spending taxpayer funds supporting the project.
How much will all this work cost? The scientific body has a 36-month term. How much are the five professionals going to be paid? What is the budget for external consultants? With the recent debacle over the $59 million ArriveCan project can we expect Ottawa to better control these costs?
More importantly, why would these five independent professionals, all experts in their field, not come to the same conclusion that government scientists have already proven – being the science, facts and evidence show RBT2 will cause environmental degradation to the intertidal food web that will be immediate, continuous, permanent, irreversible and immitigable?
Furthermore why is the scientific body starting its work when there is no economic justification for RBT2 to ever be built?
The VFPA container volumes declined by over 12 percent year over year, handling fewer containers in 2023 than in 2022 and lower than any year all the way back to 2016. Furthermore full container loads were lower in 2023 than in every year all the way back to 2011 – 12 years of declining container trade volumes.
The fully laden container volume increase between 2009 and 2023 approximates to the 600,000 TEU increase in DP World’s Centerm terminal expansion last year, thus VFPA has as much spare container terminal capacity today as it did years ago.
There is no justification for RBT2 now, nor will there ever be in the future.
If the cost of this independent scientific body is what it will take to abandon the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 project it will have been worth it. But it would be far better if the federal cabinet finally recognized it made a huge mistake in approving the VFPA Roberts Bank Terminal 2 project last year and shut it down, forever.
THE Narwhal has just published an article on the latest developments, including an update on the two court cases. Read it here:
RBT2 Will Never Be Needed
Canada’s Commissioner for the Environment continues to highlight the ongoing failure of the federal government’s conservation and climate change commitments. Why is this so? Because repeatedly the federal government – and its Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault - ignore science, facts and evidence and bow to corporate pressures to approve environmentally damaging industrial developments.
Nowhere is this more evident than the federal government’s approval of the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority’s (VFPA) Roberts Bank Terminal 2 (RBT2) project, which they approved almost a year ago (with the BC provincial government approving it several months later).
The government ignored science, facts and evidence put forward by its own scientists, environmental groups and international experts in wetlands and wetlands ecology, all demonstrating that RBT2 will result in significant adverse environmental effects that cannot be mitigated, destroying wetlands and the intertidal food web relied on by millions of migratory and other shorebirds, as well as salmon, other fishes and marine mammals.
This debacle of a government approved project proposes to add container terminal capacity to a port complex whose volumes declined by over 12 percent year over year, handling fewer containers in 2023 than in 2022 and lower than any year all the way back to 2016. Furthermore full container loads were lower in 2023 than in every year all the way back to 2011 – 12 years of declining container trade volumes.
The approximately 600,000 full loaded container increase between 2009 and 2023 is about the same as the Vanterm terminal's expansion last year.
VFPA relies on fiction to create its forecasts – claiming that its port complex would see 5 percent volumes increases year over year. The reality is VFPA has not increased its volume of loaded containers for 12 years. And during that time VFPA added almost one million to its container terminal capacity.
VFPA does not have a developer for RBT2 nor an operator, yet it is still proposing to spend over $6 billion of taxpayer funds to build another container terminal that Canada will never need, requiring the federal government to spend even more money on environmental studies and research with no economical or environmental justification.
Does Science Matter in Canada
Loys Maignon's, Canadian Society of Environmental Biologists BC Director, article "Does Science Matter in Canada's Business-minded Fantasy Conservation Policies?"
Salish Current - Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Article
Read the Nov. 20 community voices article in the Salish Current
And then send it to your contacts!