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.
HERE IS THE CURRENT RBT2 STATUS:
NOVEMBER 2022 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".
SO MANY QUESTIONS:
- WHAT IS THE PORT AFRAID OF AND WHAT IS IT TRYING TO HIDE?
- WHY DID THE PORT HIRE AN ENGINEER TO MANAGE INFRASTRUCTURE DELIVERY AND GET CONTRACTS SIGNED FOR A T2 OPERATOR?
SO MANY QUESTIONS, NO ANSWERS FROM THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.
WE NEED YOUR HELP. NOW IS THE IDEAL TIME TO URGE THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO REJECT ROBERTS BANK TERMINAL 2.
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?
And so the saga continues, eight years and counting, wasting more taxpayer funds.
KEEP THE PRESSURE ON THE FEDERAL GOVENRMENT
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 to deny 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
Container Cargo Growth Dropped off a Cliff
This excerpt from the full article in Business in Vancouver December 19, 2022 says it all:
"Demand growth for container cargo movement measured in 20-foot-equivalent units (TEUs), according to Lars Jensen, CEO of Denmark’s Vespucci Maritime, “has dropped off a cliff.”
Since RBT2 is now before cabinet, acting as Governor in Council, it is more than likely they are being bombarded with statements from Vancouver Fraser Port Authority CEO Robin Silvester to the effect that to save Canada’s trade from descending into the abyss it is critical for RBT2 to receive approval.
Certainly in the public domain CEO Silvester continues to promote the fiction that West Coast Canada is about to run out of container terminal capacity. Here are just a few of several 2022 statements from CEO Silvester:
“With continued growth, West Coast terminals are expected to run out of capacity by the mid-to late-2020s”. (Pacific Maritime Magazine)
Canada’s largest port could run out of container capacity in as soon as five years, exacerbating domestic and global supply chain issues, according to Robin Silvester, president and chief executive officer of the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority. (BNN Bloomberg)
“We foresee needing the capacity for Terminal 2 by the mid-to-late 2020s. We can’t imagine getting that capacity ready now until 2031 or 2032. We could start running out of capacity on the west coast and we hope we’ll be in the position to have Terminal 2 clearly underway, moving forward, ready to come in to relieve those capacity constraints,” (Delta Optimist)
"If we consider our short- and long-term challenges at Canada's largest port, the solutions are in fact the same," Silvester said. "To provide resiliency in the face of supply-chain disruptions and to be able to support long-term growth from a position of strength, we need to continue building capacity, efficiency and resiliency throughout the port and its supply chains. Roberts Bank Terminal 2 is an essential part of that.” (Port of Vancouver September 22 2022)
CEO Silvester’s claims that the Port of Vancouver is averaging a 5 percent annual growth are equally false. The actual compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for the ten years up to the end of 2021 is less than 3 percent. Full 2022 container volumes - to November - handled by the Port of Vancouver are down by 8 percent compared to 2021 and by 8.3% compared to 2019, the last full year prior to the pandemic.
Of course RBT2 should be denied approval based on the science and environmental issues alone, but knowing that certain members of cabinet, incredulously, are in favour of proceeding with RBT2 it is also important they be aware that the $3.5 billion (anticipated to balloon past $4.0 billion) project will be an economic disaster that the federal government will wear.
Not only that it is worth repeating that there are expansions underway at other Canadian west coast ports, such that Canada will have plenty of container terminal capacity for decades to come without ever building the environmentally destructive and prohibitively expensive RBT2.
The Port of Prince Rupert is completing its expansion of the Fairview terminal such that its capacity will increase to 1.8 million TEUs by 2023. In addition the Port also announced plans earlier this year to build an innovative second container terminal, adding another 2 million TEUs of capacity.
Prime Minister Trudeau has stated publicly (Soul of the Fraser Film Nov. 2022) that RBT2 will be assessed based on the science. Cabinet has that science from the Environment and Climate Change Canada scientists and clearly that is science the environmental assessment must be based on, not the self-serving, flawed science being promoted by the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority.
Cabinet (acting as Governor in Council) has all the information it needs to make a decision on RBT2. There is no need for further delay. As we end 2022 let’s therefore hope the Governor in Council very soon makes the decision to deny approval for RBT2 and put an end to this long running saga.
VFPA made a big mistake - now RBT2 will be denied approval
The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority made a big mistake when it attempted to push back and deflect the many thousands of opposing submissions for the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 project. When it posted its rebuttals in June 2022 to the many thousands of opposing submissions it provided the opening government scientists needed to demonstrate to the Environment Minister and the Federal Cabinet that RBT2 must be denied approval.
So on October 26 2022 Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) scientists responded to the two prior submissions from the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority,
ECCC posted on the Impact Assessment Agency Canada (IAAC) registry for T2 its comprehensive rebuttal to the VFPA claims that the RBT2 project is environmentally sustainable
The ECCC scientists are not permitted to recommend RBT2 be rejected outright and denied approval, so they have gone as far as they can - as far as they are allowed to - in expressing their concerns about RBT2. All they can do – and have done – is to state that the only way to reduce the negative impacts is a project redesign. VFPA has been given every opportunity to propose a project redesign, but clearly it has no intention to do so.
Despite all of this VFPA continues in its own dream world, constantly advertising on TV, radio and other media, promoting RBT2 as a necessary and environmentally benign project.
The actual container statistics demonstrate:
- West Coast container trade continues to languish in the doldrums, with a ten year plus cumulative compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of less than 3 percent
- VFPA actual volumes for the first three quarters of 2022 are lower than the same period in 2021, with full container volumes off by over 9 percent
- VFPA actual full container volumes ytd 2022 are lower than prior to the pandemic in 2019, off by 9 percent.
- West Coast Canada will not run out of space by the mid to late 2020s as Mr. Silvester keeps suggesting. Port operators have proven there is over one million in west coast spare container capacity, sufficient to meet Canada's trading needs into the 2030s.
Expansions already planned and being implemented in Vancouver and Prince Rupert will provide additional container capacity by the time the market requires it in the early 2030s such that the disastrous $4 billion plus RBT2 will never be needed.
With the expert advice from the ECCC scientists, who have proven beyond any doubt that the significant adverse environmental effects caused by RBT2 will “constitute an unmitigable species level risk to Western Sandpipers, and shorebirds more generally”, the federal environment minister and cabinet have all they need to make their decision and deny approval for Roberts Bank Terminal 2.
To help the government do the right thing and deny approval please send an email to the Environment Minister email@example.com.
Soul of the Fraser Film Screening
Order your free tickets here
RBT2 - The Federal Government's Environmental Disconnect
The clock is ticking for RBT2. The federal government has to make a decision soon on whether to approve a major industrial development on Roberts Bank. Yet there is a fundamental disconnect within the Federal Government’s environmental policies.
On the one hand the federal environment minister just announced - with pride - that Canada is one of the first countries to adopt the Key Biodiversity Area (KBA) standards nationally, with the Fraser River Estuary already identified as one of Canada’s critical places for nature and one of the first sites to be certified as a KBA.
On the other a crown agency of the federal government - the Port of Vancouver - is lobbying hard to get approval for Roberts Bank Container Terminal 2 (RBT2). They want to build a second container terminal on a 164-hectare man made island right in the middle of the newly certified KBA. Not only that but In addition the same crown agency wants to put a second cruise ship terminal in the lower reaches of the Fraser River. How ridiculous is that?
The government’s own scientists, supported by internationally acknowledged experts in wetlands and wetland ecology, have proven beyond any doubt that the RBT2 development will cause significant environmental impacts, described by Environment and Climate Change Canada scientists as “permanent, irreversible, and, continuous”.
Is the federal government serious as they claim about protecting nature and halting biodiversity loss? Because if they are there is no way they can support the Key Biodiversity Area concept and standards, yet still approve Roberts Bank Terminal 2 and/or a second cruise ship terminal.
How can Canada on the one hand pride itself as one of the leaders in protecting biodiversity and giving increased protection to ecosystems and wildlife species whilst at the same time approving environmentally dangerous projects such as Roberts Bank Terminal 2?
Approving any further industrialization of the lower Fraser and its estuary is in direct conflict with the aims and objectives of the Key Biodiversity Area program.
The Fraser Estuary KBA is an area critical for wildlife and biodiversity. It is an important stop for migratory birds on the Pacific Flyway. These Port of Vancouver developments threaten the values of the KBA. Degradation and over exploitation of natural resources are significantly reducing the biological diversity and integrity of recognized and important ecosystems such as the Fraser Estuary and River.
The Fraser estuary and its ecosystem is already at an environmental tipping point. It already has a ferry terminal, a coal (soon also to be potash) terminal and a three-berth container terminal. It simply cannot withstand any more port and industrial development.
It is now up to the federal government to “walk the talk”, support the principles of the KBA program in Canada and deny approval for Roberts Bank Terminal 2 as well reject a second cruise ship terminal. To do anything other than deny approval for these proposed projects in the Fraser River and Estuary would be hypocritical for the federal government and will result in international embarrassment for Canada.