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.
THE FEDERALLY-APPOINTED REVIEW PANEL PUBLISHED ITS REPORT MARCH 27 2020. ON AUGUST 24 THE FEDERAL ENVIRONMENT MINISTER PAUSED THE DECiSiON PROCESS AND ASKED THE PORT FOR MORE INFORMATION.
WE NEED YOUR HELP. NOW IS THE IDEAL TIME TO URGE THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO DENY APPROVAL OF ROBERTS BANK TERMINAL 2
There is a new petition we are asking you to sign:
This is new as of September 3 and is sponsored by Paul Manly MP for Nanaimo-Ladysmith. Once we reach 500 signatures it will be placed before the House of Commons. It calls on the Government of Canada to DENY APPROVAL FOR ROBERTS BANK TERMINAL 2.
See what others are doing to stop RBT2:
Natural Legacies versus Waste
Georgia Strait Alliance
Container Terminal 2 Fight Heating Up
We now know the Federal Government chose to withhold a letter that was intended to go to the Review Panel for Roberts Bank Terminal 2 (RBT2). It contained key information that summarised the government scientists' concerns, summarized as:
"Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) continues to conclude that predicted changes to Roberts Bank constitute and unmitigable species-level risk to Western Sandpipers, and shorebirds generally and that therefore the only way to be confident of avoiding the impacts on biofilm and shorebirds from these geomorphological processes is with a Project Redesign"
That draft letter was already written and sent to a meeting of the Assistant Deputy Ministers Major Ports Steering Committee on August 20, six days before the deadline for submitting closing remarks to the Panel. After that meeting it appears the letter and the government scientists’ concerns were buried.
The federal government made a fundamental error in not submitting that letter to the Panel and as a result they appear to have misled the Panel.
Furthermore, the environmental assessment for Roberts Bank Terminal 2 has not met the provisions of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.
Not only that but the Environment Minister paused the decision process on August 24 and is asking the Port for more information. Surprisingly the Minister is asking the Port to update its own science model, despite the fact that both ECCC and independent scientists have labelled the Port science as flawed. But more importantly, the Minister is not asking for more data for the areas where the Panel indicated it did not have answers. For example the Panel was unable to conclude whether or not the negative effects to Western Sandpipers will be significant. Plus the Panel was unable to determine the effects on polyunsaturated fatty acids despite these being a critical food source for millions of shorebirds, fishes and other wildlife.
Why is the Minister not asking these questions? Is he concerned the answers will scuttle the RBT2 project?
Business in Vancouver published an article on September 25 entitled
" Delayed decision hasn't cooled the container terminal fight"
Read the article on the Business in Vancouver website here:
highlights the real and unanswered environmental concerns with the RBT2 project. Equally it demonstrates there are other more economical and sustainable ways to meet future terminal capacity demands when such demand arises, which given that the Vancouver area ports’ container volumes are in decline, whilst Prince Rupert is planning to significantly expand its terminals, may not be for many years to come.
With the City of Delta – the host city for this project - now also firmly opposed to RBT2 and as these previously hidden documents reveal, the federal government now really has no choice.
It must deny approval for Roberts Bank Terminal 2, because they have in front of them, as now does the public, science and facts from their own scientists supported by independent science that proves this project is fundamentally flawed and cannot go forward.
Environment Canada Report Witheld from the Panel
New Access-to-Information findings reveal yet another federal government cover-up, this one involving the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 (RBT2) project.
In August 2019, the Review Panel asked government agencies, stakeholders and the public to submit closing remarks, prior to them closing the record on the RBT2 project and retiring to write their report and recommendations. The panel made it very clear these final submissions not contain any new information, but rather a summation of key findings and recommendations.
Environment Canada answered the call, as did many others, including the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority (VFPA). Whilst many submissions made it through to the Panel, one was missing and that was Environment Canada’s.
Read the final draft of Environment Canada's RBT2 missing submission here
So, who in Ottawa decided to withhold the scientists’ submission and why? Was it someone in the Environment Ministry; someone in the Transport Ministry; was it senior Ottawa bureaucrats; was it the Prime Minister‘s office, or was it someone else?
This Access to Information request reveals a damning summary of the RBT2 project. Authored by Environment Canada, it underlines the scientists’ concerns, one being that RBT2 constitutes an unmitigable species-level risk to Western Sandpipers and shorebirds more generally. That submission would have provided the Review Panel a different picture, showing that Environment Canada scientists were right all along in stating that the RBT2 will result in significant adverse environmental effects that cannot be mitigated. It would clearly demonstrate RBT2 is extremely damaging to the Robert’s Bank ecosystem. Armed with that report the Panel could well have recommended that the RBT2 project approval be denied.
This newly released material reveals Ottawa bureaucrats attempting to influence the Environment Canada scientists, with clear evidence those proposing a number of changes were trying to alter or dumb down the scientists’ recommendations. In one change they say references to scientific material are not permitted, which is not true. In another they question whether certain mitigation needs to be operational and tested prior to construction. When the Environment Canada scientists refused to back down someone in Ottawa made the decision that this Panel submission was too damaging to the project to go forward and therefore decided to bury it.
The Government's closing submission was all ready to go. As the release package shows the letter to the Panel, dated August 20 was written and was to be discussed at an Assistant Deputy Ministers Major Port Projects Steering Committee.
The letter concludes:
Read the APE Press Release of Sept. 16 here:
Tell Ottawa to Prioritize a Green Recovery - and deny RBT2
APE has recently put its name and logo on a new video produced by Nature Canada
As you can see Nature Canada is urging us to ask Ottawa to focus on the environment in plans for Canada's recovery, stating, "you can't have a plan for the economy if you do not have plan for the envrionment". It calls on Ottawa to invest in nature and urges us to hold Ottawa accountable.
Nature Canada is asking you to write to your MP using this link
The intent of the letter is also to gauge which MPs are supportive of a green recovery. With Team Trudeau having prorogued parliament this is very timely. At the end of September there is to be a new speech from the throne, where we should expect specific moves to promote a green recovery.
One of those should be to deny approval of RBT2 and I encourage you to include that in your letter. Also take the oportunity to send a copy to the PM at firstname.lastname@example.org, and to the Envrionment Minister at email@example.com.
We are trying out a new logo - see below. Tell us what you think by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Delta Council Votes to Oppose RBT2
Just last week the City of Delta voted to oppose RBT2 and to write the Prime Minister asking him to reject the Port of Vancouver's proposed second container terminal on Roberts Bank. Here is the Delta Optimist's report of that decision:
The Port was not thrilled, but Delta has since received a lot of support for the stand it is taking.
The Decision on Roberts Bank Terminal 2 – Next Steps.
We know from comments made by Vancouver Fraser Port Authority (VFPA) CEO Robin Silvester and Vice President Duncan Wilson, as well as other credible sources, that Ottawa is about to release “Draft Conditions” for Roberts Bank Terminal 2 for First Nations consultation and public comment.
What does that mean?
The Impact Assessment Agency Canada (previously known as the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency) is the lead agency and has been working with various government ministries to develop a document detailing conditions under which RBT2 might be approved. It appears VFPA staff has been “helping” in developing these draft conditions. Indications are that federal bureaucrats have been scrambling to come up with a host of soft conditions so RBT2 can be put across as having no immitigable environmental effects.
Therefore, we now expect the draft conditions may include:
- Untested ways in which the negative environmental effects from RBT2 might be mitigated, including the high quality biofilm on Roberts Bank that is an irreplaceable food source for millions of migratory and other shorebirds as well as other wildlife.
- Identifying other areas where biofilm exists without regard to shorebird needs and hypothetical methods in which biofilm can be created, perhaps with the assistance of First Nations.
- Further steps to protect the already endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales, by, for example, more vessel speed limitations as well as attempts to reduce vessel (propeller) noise.
- Increased steps to protect Chinook salmon stocks.
- Generic ways to protect migratory birds especially Western Sandpipers.
- Initiatives for monitoring effects and further research as the project progresses – all after the horse has left the stable.
- Fisheries Act authorization, which it appears VFPA has already applied for.
All this is leading up to providing the Environment Minister with information to aid in his decision-making.
The Decision – to be made by November 23 2020
The Minister is on record as stating “My decision will be also be based on science, facts and evidence, informed by meaningful indigenous consultation and serve the public interest”. He must make a determination as to whether RBT2 is likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects. Given the Panel Report statements this may well be the case. If so, the Minister must refer it to the Governor in Council (federal cabinet) to determine whether the effects are justified in the circumstances. This is where these draft conditions then become important. The Transport Minister and perhaps other cabinet members will certainly be pushing for approval subject to the conditions. And VFPA will definitely state that they will abide by all of them, even though history shows that in practise some will be later watered down or ignored all together.
In parallel with this the BC Environmental Assessment Office will conduct its own assessment, using five pillars for evaluating the potential adverse effects of RBT2, namely the environmental, economic, social, heritage, and health effects that may occur during the life of the project. However, it appears BC will not make a decision until after the Federal decision is announced.
Actions to take now - before it is too late
- Write your MP https://www.ourcommons.ca/members/en asking them to oppose RBT2 on environmental grounds.
- Write to the Environment Minister email@example.com opposing RBT2.
- Write your MLA asking them to oppose RBT2 on environmental grounds.
- Ask the Metro Vancouver Board to oppose RBT2.
- Urge local groups that you belong to oppose RBT2.
- Write letters to newspapers and engage the media.
Once these draft conditions are made public, watch for a vigorous scientific review and comment from environmental groups. We are not going to allow the government to trade-off the huge negative ecological effects for an unnecessary second container terminal on Roberts Bank.