Against Port Expansion

Save the Fraser Estuary by Stopping Roberts Bank Terminal 2

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For how much longer is the Port of Vancouver going to continue spinning misinformation that Roberts Bank Terminal 2 is environmentally sustainable and is the only solution to satisfy Canada’s container trading needs?

 At its recent Annual General Meeting the Port of Vancouver continued with its misinformation regarding the environmental impacts of it’s Roberts Bank Container Terminal 2 (RBT2) project and the business need for more container capacity on the Canadian West Coast.

In answer to this question at the meeting:
“The Fraser estuary is on the bank of collapse, several new research studies in the media are demonstrating it. Why is the port of Vancouver persisting with its $3.5 billion plus environmentally disastrous RBT2 when both B.C. container terminal operators GCT and DP World have proposed environmentally sustainable terminal expansions?"

The Port Senior Management responded that the terminal would be built in deep water well away from shores and habitats. That is irrelevant

By building this huge man made island - the size of 250 football fields - they will alter tidal flows, water temperature and salinity. It is the salinity and its fluctuations that produce the fatty acid rich diatoms in the biofilm on the mudflats that is an essential food source for millions of birds and other wildlife. That man-made island lessens the fluctuations in salinity and the biofilm will no longer have the richness and the polyunsaturated fatty acids and Omega 3 that the birds need. This could well lead to the extinction of the Western Sandpipers that rely on it when they stop to refuel on their way to their arctic breeding grounds. 

In answer to another question:
“The impacts of a future potential RBT2 development on the ecosystem within the Salish Sea will be devastating. How is the Port reconciling this reality against its intention to continue with its pursuit of the new terminal?”

Port senior management stated that the additional information they are preparing for the Environment Minister shows that this project can be built and operate in ways that can mitigate environmental impacts. They went on to state: “By the time terminal 2 is complete, we are going to be leaving a legacy of environmental benefits behind as a result of the project”.


The government’s own scientists are insistent, stating this project will result in significant adverse environmental effects that cannot be mitigated. They told the Environmental Assessment Panel the project’s impacts on biofilm  “are anticipated to be high in magnitude, permanent, irreversible, and continuous”. In other words, immitigable

There is no point in the Port providing more of its paid-for consultants’ developed science to the Minister. None of that science has been published in peer-reviewed science journals and much of it runs counter to the scientific community’s findings that the Fraser Estuary is part of an already observed and wider biodiversity collapse in the Salish Sea, driven by projects like Roberts Bank Terminal 2. 

Port senior management continue to misinform the public, policy makers and politicians In terms of a business need for RBT2. Port senior management claims RBT2 is the only project to meet Canada’s needs by the end of the 2020s. 

That is patently false information.  

At a recent presentation DP World, the operator of the Vancouver Centerm, Fraser Surrey Docks and Prince Rupert container terminals stated they will:

      1. Continue to operate the Fraser Surrey Docks container terminal beyond 2023 (The Port says the terminal will decline because of limitations in the River).

       2. By 2022 finish expansion of the Centerm Terminal to provide 1.5 million Container (TEU) capacity.

        3. By 2023 expand Prince Rupert's Fairview Terminal to provide 1.8-million (TEU) capacity. 

       4. Between 2028 and 2030 bring a second terminal (On South Kaien Island) into operation giving Prince Rupert container capacity in excess of 5 million TEUs. 

Taken together and adding in Global Container Terminals capacities at Deltaport and Vanterm in the inner harbour, West Coast Canada will have in excess of 10 million container terminal capacity by 2030. The Port of Vancouver’s own recently updated forecast shows West Coast Canada terminals will handle between 7.5 to 8.8 mill TEUs by 2045. Therefore there is clearly no need to build RBT2 at the huge cost of $3.5 billion plus whilst devastating the natural habitat and the Roberts Bank ecosystem in the process.

The federal government and cabinet must now recognize the only responsible action is to reject the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 project, thereby preserving this ecosystem and wildlife habitat essential for the survival of 102 species at risk of extinction, plus over 2 billion juvenile salmon, and the 1.4 million migratory birds that visit this stop on the Pacific flyway every year. 

Read these two documents to understand why the Fraser Estuary is on the brink of collapse and why RBT2 is not needed - ever



Fraser Estuary Under Threat

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The Fraser Estuary is threatened with even more habitat destruction.


A new presentation has just been released. It describes the Fraser Estuary and Roberts Bank, the habitat, ecology, environment and the threats and environmental degradation that it faces. View it here


New Nature Agreement - Must include rejecting RBT2

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Canada and Britsh Columbia annouce new Nature Agreement.

In announcing this agreement here is what Minister Wilkinson Environment and Climate Change said:

"We live in a province with unique species and ecosystems found nowhere else in the world. Protecting and promoting the recovery of threatened species is a responsibility and requires action based on collaboration. The British Columbia–Canada Nature Agreement will ensure we are working with our federal counterparts, Indigenous nations, and others to define new approaches that are supported by science and Indigenous knowledge. These first pilot projects will strengthen habitat protection for the threatened species which depend on it, such as the Spotted Owl, and help build a systemic approach to protection of biodiversity." 

So let's all hope he follows through and as part of building a "a systemic approach to protection of biodiversity" that he also rejects the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 project.

To help him achieve that send him an email to: and copy in BC Minister George Heyman at

World Wetlands Day 2021

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50 years ago on Feb. 2 the Ramsar Convention came into effect, to highlight the importance of wetlands to the plsnet and human well-being.

In 2012 The Fraser Estuary received the designation as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.

Will it remain a wetland of international importance if Roberts Bank Terminal 2 is built? Not likely.

Is The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority’s Roberts Bank Terminal 2 (RBT2)
environmentally sustainable?

Answering just one question determines if RBT2 should be approved. The question - are the significant adverse environmental effects that will result from building RBT2 fully mitigable?

On August 24 2020 Environment and Climate Change Canada Minister Jonathan Wilkinson acknowledged, “ …that even taking into account mitigation measures the Review Panel determined that significant adverse effects to fish and fish habitat, including species at risk, human health, and current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes, among others were likely”. So is RBT2 mitigable? Is the project environmentally sustainable?

Not according to many who say NO, including:

  1. Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) scientists. In reports and published papers in independent internationally peer-reviewed scientific journals submitted to the Environmental Assessment Review Panel the scientists said the project’s impacts on biofilm (a critical food source for million of shorebirds) “are anticipated to be high in magnitude, permanent, irreversible, and, continuous”. In other words unmitigable. 
  2. ECCC scientists also rebutted the Port’s claim that biofilm can be created, stating, “there are no accepted techniques to remediate for functional biofilm for shorebirds on intertidal mudflats”, nor enough other available habitat to replace what will be lost if RBT2 is built, therefore mitigation for this habitat loss is not possible.
  3. The Canadian Wildlife Service, state Western Sandpipers have been declining at 2 percent a year and the entire species risks extinction if RBT2 is built.
  4. Forty or more environmental and other groups including BC Nature, Birds Canada and Nature Canada have all registered opposition, stating RBT2 will result in significant adverse environmental effects that cannot be mitigated.
  5. The cities of Richmond and Delta, both of whom voted to oppose RBT2.
  6. Major international environmental organizations such as BirdLife International (which lists the Fraser Estuary as an “Important Bird Area” in danger) and the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network.
  7. Recently published UBC research states the Fraser Estuary is on the brink of collapse and 102 species are at risk of extinction. (Conservation Science and Practice Journal)
  8. Internationally recognized scientists (Professors Pat Baird (SFU) and Peter Beninger (University of Nantes), experts in ecosystem function, have vigorously challenged the Port science – the Port science has never been published in an independent peer-reviewed scientific journal.
  9. Georgia Strait Alliance and Ecojustice state the Southern Resident Killer Whales are subjected to increasing levels of underwater noise plus a lack of Chinook salmon that put them at increased risk of extinction, made much worse as a result of RBT2.
  10. Raincoast Conservation and Rivers Institute (M.Rosenau) state RBT2 will impede the ability of juvenile salmon to access rearing habitat in the estuary and increase the risk of predation as the juveniles navigate around the port causeway, Deltaport and now (if built) RBT2.

If not mitigable then is RBT2 otherwise justifiable? Is an additional terminal needed on Roberts Bank because West Coast Canada is running out of terminal capacity as VFPA claims? Not according to the statistics. Despite claims of record growth VFPA’s 2019 and 2020 volumes have remained basically flat compared to 2018. Its twelve-year compound annual growth rate is below 3 percent. Global Container Terminals and DP World are both adding capacity in Vancouver. DP World has plans for a large expansion at Prince Rupert, all this giving the West Coast potential capacity of 10 million container’s (TEUs), sufficient to accommodate Canadian trade for decades to come without ever building RBT2.

House of Commons Petition to STOP RBT2

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On December 9 2020 MP Paul Manly presented e-petition 2828 to the House of Commons asking government to deny approval for the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 project.
In doing so he made the following statement:

"Mr. Speaker, it is an honour and privilege to table e-petition 2828, which has 1,861 signatures.

     The petitioners are concerned about the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority proposal to build another container terminal at Roberts Bank, creating a massive new man-made island the size of 150 football fields.

    The petitioners call upon the Government of Canada to maintain the environmental integrity of the Roberts Bank ecosystem for migratory birds, the endangered southern resident killer whales and other wildlife. They ask the government to deny approval of the Roberts Bank container terminal 2 project".

Watch the petition being presented here:


Which part of NO does the Port of Vancover not understand?

NO to Roberts Bank Terminal 2:

  • Said the city of Delta
  • Said the city of Richmond
  • Said almost 2000 Canadians who signed the House of Commons Petition
  • Said Birds Canada, BC Nature, Birdlife International, Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network, David Suzuki Foundation, Raincoast Conservation, Georgia Strait Alliance, Nature Canada, amongst the 40 environmental and other groups opposed to RBT2.
  • Said Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) scientists, stating that “ECCC characterizes the Project's residual adverse impacts on biofilm due to predicted changes in salinity as potentially high in magnitude, permanent, irreversible, and, continuous”. These same scientists told the Review Panel that “ECCC's confidence in the ( Port’s) Environmental Impact Statement's predictions is characterized as low. In particular, impacts to biofilm could potentially implicate the long-term viability of Western Sandpipers as a species (IBID). ECCC similarly characterizes impacts to Western Sandpipers as potentially high in magnitude, permanent, irreversible, and continuous”.

It does not get any cleaner than that.

Canadians asked Prime Minister Trudeau, Minister of Environment Wilkinson and Members of Cabinet - please now do the right thing:

  • Protect the unique Roberts Bank environment, 
  • Protect birds, fishes, Southern Resident Killer Whales and other wildlife that all rely on the natural habitat and wetlands of Roberts Bank,
  • Prevent species degradation from further port development,
  • Prevent harm to residents living near Roberts Bank, 
  • Prevent further traffic congestion caused by port truck traffic, 
  • Stop the Port spending $4 billion of taxpayer funds, and

Tell Vancouver Fraser Port Authority the RBT2 project is cancelled.

What did they do? Nothing!! The Environment Minister in his response to the petition states:

" Once the Minister is satisfied that the requested information (from the Port) has been provided, the federal timeline will resume. The Port Authority’s responses to the information request will be posted to the Canadian Impact Assessment Registry. The Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (the Agency) will then host a public comment period and seek input on the Port Authority’s responses. Additionally, the Agency will post the draft potential conditions online—a document outlining conditions that the Proponent must comply with to move forward with the Project. The public will be invited to submit comments on this document as well. The next step will be for the Minister to make decisions on the signiVcance of effects under CEAA 2012. The decisions will be based on science, facts and evidence, and informed by meaningful Indigenous consultation".

Why is this so wrong:

1. The Port of Vancouver has now said it will not respond to the Environment Minister’s request for more information on RBT2 until next summer. They are effectively holding the environment hostage and there are increasing calls for the whole process to be ended.

2. The cities of Delta and Richmond have both voted to oppose Terminal 2.

3.  A just released study on marine issues investigating Southern Resident Killer Whales deaths: 

4. Scientific papers identifying, quantifying and highlighting the risks to the environment - the latest one from UBC co-authored by Dr. Tara Martin is featured in the November28/29 2020 Globe and Mail.


5. A rival operation to RBT2 is in the planning stages under federal and provincial environmental assessment. Deltaport operator Global Container Terminals is proposing to add a 4th berth to its current facility.

The Lower Fraser River, its estuary and the southern Salish sea cannot handle any more port development with the:

  • Associated marine traffic, 
  • Environmental degradation and,
  • Many negative air, noise and light pollution effects that will result for both wildlife and area residents.

The Port of Vancouver is holding the environment hostage by its refusal to answer additional questions regarding RBT2. This makes a nonsense out of Canada's environmental legislation and it must be stopped.

It is time for the Federal Government to recognize the Port of Vancouver’s Roberts Bank Terminal 2 project must never be built.
So please write to the Environment Minister and call on him to use his powers under the environmental legislation to deny project approval.
If you wish you can also sign a new e-petition which calls on both the federal and provincial governments to halt the RBT2 project.
You will find it here:



Fraser River and Delta - 102 Species at Risk

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The Globe and Mail contains an excellent article on the dire straits of the Fraser River and its Delta.

It correctly portrays the Fraser River Delta as being at a tipping point in terms of its environmental values. 70-80 percent of its natural habitat has been lost, much of it to industrial and port development.

The G and M  article is based on a joint project of researchers at the University of Victoria and University of British Columbia.

Check out a short video on the work here:


As we already know  the Fraser River and its estuary is at a crossroads with major disturbances looming on the horizon. One of these is the construction of the Port of Vancouver’s Roberts Bank Terminal 2 (RBT2) project, situated in the middle of an important ecosystem crucial to millions of migratory and other shorebirds, as well as salmon, already endangered killer whales, fishes and other wildlife.

The Globe and Mail article quotes a Port spokesperson as saying, “The terminal would generate hundreds of millions of dollars a year” then going on to say if the terminal development is approved, “it will be built in a way that upholds our mandate to protect the environment.” 

What the article does not mention is Environment Canada scientists’ concerns - they disagree with the Port science, warning that further port development on Roberts Bank puts millions of shorebirds and other species at risk.

It is unfortunate the Globe and Mail article does not reference the many concerns raised about the Port of Vancouver’s terminal 2 project by the scientists from Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC). As far back as 2005 they had stated that further port development on Roberts Bank risks breaking the chain of the Pacific Flyway (for millions of migratory birds). Most recently these scientists have stated their research demonstrates that if Roberts Bank Terminal 2 were to be built the residual adverse effects on shorebirds in general and migratory birds in particular could implicate their long-term viability.  In particular the scientists say “ECCC similarly characterizes impacts to Western Sandpipers as potentially high in magnitude, permanent, irreversible, and continuous”. (February 12 2018: Letter from Environment Canada to The Review Panel, Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project).

As Dr. Martin co-author of the study states at the end of the Globe and Mail article:

"the scientific evidence underscores why the estuary is now facing the most pivotal moment in its history. If we continue business as usual then we’ll lose most of these species,” she said. “Or we have an opportunity to change and develop in a way that averts the loss of future economic opportunities from having such a bio-diverse region.”

The timing of this Globe and Mail article and the research paper on which it is largely based could not be better. 
  • The cities of Delta and Richmond are both opposing the RBT2 project. 
  • The Port of Vancouver recently announced that that they will not provide the additional information for RBT2 to the Environment Minister until the summer of 2021. They are effectively holding the process hostage with their repeated delays and obfuscation.
  • Our e-petition, which calls for RBT2 to be stopped, has garnered close to 1700 signatures. It closes next week and then will be presented to the House of Commons
This is the perfect time to demand the RBT2 project be cancelled. The science is compelling, the risks to the environment are great, too much time has passed, conditions have changed, much material is now out of date and there are competing proposals (GCT Berth 4, Prince Rupert). RBT2 has no business case and other projects, especially at Prince Rupert, can satisfy Canada’s trading needs for decades to come at a lower cost and without the environmental degradation that RBT2 will deliver.
It is time for the Federal Government to recognize the Port of Vancouver’s Roberts Bank Terminal 2 project must never be built.
So please write to the Environment Minister and call on him to use his powers under the environmental legislation to deny project approval.

RBT2 Opposition Growing

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Opposition to the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority's Roberts Bank Terminal 2 project continues to grow.

The House of Commons Petition has over 1400 signatures with more being added everyday. That opposition is countrywide - eight Provinces and two Territories.

More than twenty groups, some with thousands of members, have voiced their opposition to RBT2.

Many have written to the Federal Government. Here is a recent letter from the Vancouver Unitarians. Their letter, addressed to the Prime Minister as well as the Environment and Transport Ministers, was also sent to all Vancouver area MPs.


The House of Commons Petition can be signed here.

If you have not yet signed it, please do so before the deadline.

Container Terminal 2 Fight Heating Up

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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:

 This article:


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

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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: 

“Project induced changes to Roberts Bank constitute an unmitigable species level risk to Western Sandpipers and shorebirds more generally and that therefore the only way to be confident of avoiding the impacts on biofilm and shore birds from these predicted geomorphological processes is with a project redesign”.
It would appear the ADMs refused to let the letter go forward to the Panel because this was too damaging and might have led to the Panel recommending project approval  be denied.
Whilst the Environment Canada final submission to the Review Panel was withheld, the VFPA final report  sailed through to the Panel, where it was used to discredit and disparage the Environment Canada scientists.
With Environment Canada’s report in the public domain it is clear Environment Minister Wilkinson has no choice.  He has to recommend to Cabinet the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 project be turned down on environmental issues. Let us hope he makes the right and responsible decision.

Read the APE Press Release of Sept. 16 here:


Tell Ottawa to Prioritize a Green Recovery - and deny RBT2

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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, and to the Envrionment Minister at

We are trying out a new logo - see below. Tell us what you think by emailing


Delta Council Votes to Oppose RBT2

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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 asking them to oppose RBT2 on environmental grounds.
  • Write to the Environment Minister 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. 


Submitted by: Susan Jones BBCC

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Susan Jones on behalf of the Boundary Bay Conservation Committee has written to both the Federal and Provincial Governments identifying crtical gaps in the RBT2 Panel Report.

Read the letter here:


Write Your MP - Stop RBT2

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Do you want to STOP RBT2?

Then you need to write letters, call MPs, use social media – Facebook and Twitter, tell friends and work colleagues.
The federal politicians need to hear from you, their constituents. If you live in:
You can also contact:
The Port of Vancouver has a unique advantage over you. They recently placed a senior executive in Ottawa who has strong Liberal connections. It appears they are meeting with Environment Canada. Is that unethical? Certainly unusual and disturbing - it is like you meeting with a judge prior to a court date when they will later rule on a legal case you are involved in. 

What are they meeting about? Likely about biofilm, a very thin slimy substance that coats the surface of the mudflats of Roberts Bank and plays a key role in making its ecosystem hugely productive for the wildlife that relies on it especially, migratory shorebirds and in particular the Western Sanpiper. That biofilm and its unique properties is crucial to the birds very survival and yet these rich mudflats on Roberts Bank risk being decimated by RBT2.

The Port of Vancouver knows it is vulnerable on environmental issues. They seem to believe they can win the argument for building RBT2, but they are very concerned about the biofilm issue and the mudflats on Roberts Bank that contain this very rich and high quality food source, crucial for millions of migratory and other shorebirds, fishes and other wildlife.

If we are to stop RBT2 we need lots and lots of letters to the politicians. Here is a sample letter. Email it as written or amend it.

Or you can mail it post free to the named MP at:
House of Commons 
Ottawa, Ontario,
K1A 0A6

Want more information? Here is the most recent detailed report: “RBT2: Too Much Harm and Risk and No Justification”

Scientific American - RBT2 Threatens Migratory Birds

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Will the federal government rely on science and facts in its decison on the Port of Vancouver's proposed Roberts Bank Terminal 2 project?

That is the stark choice. Does the government rely on Environment Canada science, supported by independent peer-reviewed scientists who are respected internatinally? Or do they accept the Port's paid for science, which has never been peer-reviewed and is not supported by any sicentists or science-based organizations that are indpendent of (i.e. not paid for or under contract to) the Port. There is nothing wrong with the Port's data. It is the self-serving manner in which they have interpreted it. They decided on the answer that they wanted from the science and them twisted interpretation of the data to get the results that they needed. They then compounded that error by suggesting that the biofilm that the project will destroy can be "created". This despite the fact there are no expamples of "biofilm creation" of the size and magnitiude of what the Port is suggesting. Even the Federal Review Panel stated that :
"There exists considerable uncertainty around the possibility that loss of productive biofilm habitat could be mitigated by the large-scale re-creation of biofilm habitat capable of supporting shorebirds, including appropriate bottom sediment characteristicsand salinity conditions."

The latest issue of Scientific American carries an article about Roberts Bank:

"Slimy mudflat biofilm feeds migratory birds - and could be threatened."

The independent science is overwhelming. The scientific perspectives expressed in the article state what has been said many times over by scientists independent of the Port of Vancouver

The federal government can no longer ignore the obvious. Roberts Bank must be protected from any further industrial/port development. If the current government is serious about protecting important wetlands then it must deny approval for the the container terminal project.

To do otherwise will bring Canada international embarrassment and condemnation. Roberts Bank by the way is a Ramsar wetlands site of international importance and the Port project would degrade that site. Canada is a signatory to this UN treaty. It needs to uphold the treaty’s values and say no to Roberts Bank Terminal 2.

Please tell Minister Wilkinson at email to listen to science and deny approval of RBT2.

Need help with a letter? Here is a word version ready for you to send, or amend as you wish:






How to Stop RBT2

Submitted by: Admin

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There is increasing evidence that the Federal government are moving quickly to advance the decision for the RBT2 project. This is occurring even though the Environment Minister extended the time limit for issuance of the decision statement until November 2020.

Under the cover of the pandemic it appears that government staff and the Port Authority may have been holding discussions. Government staff in Ottawa have certainly been working all this time to develop background material to present to the politicians who will make the final decision.

The attached report is to assist groups and individuals in getting the RBT2 approval denied.
 The report includes:
  • How the decision process works
  • Who the decision makers are
  • An analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of getting RBT2 approval denied
  • The Port Authority’s strategy to get to YES.
  • Suggested actions to take
  • Reference material
  • A list of groups opposing RBT2
  • The latest APE Press Release



Is Port of Vancouver Desperate - or What?

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How Desperate Is the Port?

Out of the blue, the Vancouver Port Authority just released a newsletter and video about biofilm on Roberts Bank. Why now? 

Seemingly the Port is alarmed that neither the public, environmental organizations, scientists, nor decision-makers are buying into their story that Roberts Bank Terminal 2 (RBT2) will not result in significant adverse effects to Western Sandpipers that rely on fatty acids from biofilm as they make a refuelling stop on their long northward migration to their breeding grounds.

The Port’s newsletter and video contain nothing new but conveniently omit that the Review Panel agrees with Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) that biofilm mitigation is not possible.  The Port’s messages conflict directly with findings of federal government scientists as well as independent internationally recognized experts. For example, while the Port claims that the project will result in a direct loss of less than 0.1% of biofilm on Roberts Bank they are ignoring the probability of losing all bird-friendly biofilm on Roberts Bank by removal of the salinity trigger responsible for fatty acid production, critical to Western Sandpipers and many other shorebirds.

The federally-appointed Review Panel is on record as stating:

 1). “The (RBT2) proposed offsetting plan, totaling 29 hectares, is not sufficient to compensate for the reduction in productivity associated with the habitat loss of 177 hectares at Roberts Bank”, and 

 2). “The Panel agrees with ECCC that mudflat creation at Roberts Bank is unproven as a mitigation measure for biofilm and as such cannot be considered feasible until best practices can be developed”.

Federal government scientists as well as independent experts fundamentally disagree with the Port’s consultants and their latest newsletter and video. ECCC has consistently maintained that offsetting high quality biofilm habitat is not feasible and advised that only a project redesign could avoid adverse effects on shorebirds that will inevitably result from changes in biofilm fatty acid production. 

Professor Peter G. Beninger (Université de Nantes), internationally recognized authority on biofilm, with over 100 peer-reviewed publications as well as the definitive book on mudflat ecology, stated at the public hearings: “He was of the opinion it was not yet possible to confidently understand how the Project would affect biofilm relative to all nutritional sources of importance to shorebirds, due to limited knowledge of mudflat ecology.”

Dr. Patricia Baird (Kahiltna Research Group), internationally recognized and author of numerous peer-reviewed papers on birds, also presented at the public hearings. As the Panel Report states Dr. Baird said “that many studies had shown that the Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFAs) in freshwater diatoms were less concentrated than in marine diatoms and that, unlike what the Proponent had stated, not all PUFAs were similar. She mentioned that the Proponent had keyed out diatoms only to genus and stated that the Proponent should have focused on diatom species. Dr. Baird stated that freshwater diatoms would not produce the high concentrations of EPA and DHA on which shorebirds depend.” 

The newsletter mentions that the Port is completing a biofilm habitat construction manual. This is a "red herring" as it cannot be compiled without further research towards maintaining fatty acids from biofilm and merely supports the Port position that PUFA are not important and won’t be impacted. Current "Best Practices" is to leave the current biofilm as it is and unimpaired by RBT2. 

The Port commitment to work with government and to carry out further research, monitoring and follow-up is meaningless if done after permission to build is granted. Given the probability that follow-up research further confirms there will be a significant adverse effect to the entire species of Western Sandpiper, then Canada will have an internationally embarrassing problem, because as ECCC have repeatedly stated the negative effects will be “immediate, continuous and not mitigable”.

The opinions expressed in the video by Mr. Rourke and Professor Ydenberg cannot be considered independent since both are working for the Port. Their views run counter to experts independent of the Port who presented to the Review Panel. These independent positions are supported by a suite of peer-reviewed studies, two of which have recently published in major scientific journals. 1,2

The newsletter and video appear nothing more than a blatant attempt to influence agencies debating a fair decision on the project. The Port – a federal Crown Agency – is out of line in attempting to compromise the decision making process. 

Independent and federal science versus Port science – which should Canadians trust? The decision on RBT2 must be based on science and facts. The choice is clear. Decision makers must rely on credible independent science rather than non-peer reviewed and self-serving Port science. 

1. Peak Abundance of Fatty Acids From Intertidal Biofilm in Relation to the Breeding Migration of Shorebirds” (Frontiers in Marine Science Feb 2020)

 2. Natural History Observations that Transformed Shorebird Ecology (Ecosphere Naturalist Journal May 2020)




Panel Report - Devastating Enviromental Effects

Submitted by: admin

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The Roberts Bank Terminal 2 (RBT2) Panel Report, released March 30, has confirmed that if built RBT2 will cause significant adverse environmental effects in many diverse areas. 
If the Federal Government approves RBT2 the risk is it will:
  • severely damage the Roberts Bank ecosystem
  • compromise wetlands and wetland functions
  • put more than 50 bird species in Canada’s top Important Bird Area under threat
  • push the Western Sandpiper and the already endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales towards extinction
  • break the chain of the Pacific Flyway
  • attract international embarrassment and condemnation and violate trans-boundary treaties and the Migratory Birds Convention Act, adopted in 1917 and updated in 1994.

The Environmental Assessment Panel has for the most part submitted a good report. They document many areas of concern, risks to the environment, wildlife and human health. There is enough in this report to prevent RBT2 ever being built.  
Damage cannot be mitigated. 
Environment Canada scientists, supported by independent experts, have repeatedly stated that the damage caused by RBT2 will be immediate, permanent, continous and cannot be mitigated. The Panel proposed mitigation measures but many of these are hit-or-miss measures and will not fully compensate for either the species, or system-level environmental effects. Additionally mitigation has not even been devised for biofilm loss, nor for species level risks to Western Sandpipers. 
Support for stopping RBT2 is gaining momentum.
Articles have been published in the Delta Optimist, Business in Vancouver and elsewhere.
On April 23 Radio Canada aired a program by Isabelle Groc
 in the chronicle endangered species, talking about the migration of thousands of birds to Alaska.
Listen to it here:
She told listeners that every year in April in Delta BC, the birds stop on Roberts Bank for a few weeks to recharge their batteries before continuing their long migration to the North. Isabelle explains to us why these birds chose Delta as a rest area, and how this area is threatened by the Port of Vancouver, who are trying to add a second container terminal in Delta on Roberts Bank.
The Narwhal has just released a report stating that Ottawa must reject the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 project. Authored By Silke Nebel, VP conservation and science, Birds Canada, and Gauri Sreenivasan, director of policy, Nature Canada. Read it here:

Important to see two respected organizations also calling for RBT2 to be rejected.

RBT2 can be stopped.
Two reports analyze the Panels Findings. Read them here:
This report produced by APE's Executiver Director, Roger Emsley

This report prepared by Mary Taitt Director Boundary Bay Conservation Committee
Then take action to ensure RBT2 approval is DENIED.
Here is how:

1. If you are an environmental group send out a Press Release identifying the negative issues in the Panel report and demanding project approval be denied.
2. Groups and Individuals (especially in the Lower Mainland), send a letter to Minister Wilkinson (Environment), cc. Ministers Jordan (DFO), Garneau (Transport) and Qualtrough (also MP for Delta), as well as their own MPs. This letter needs to go well in advance of the ministerial decision date and ask them to support denial of the project’s approval.
3. Also write to the Ontario Federal Liberal Caucus, pointing out if RBT2 is approved another $4.0 Billion in federal funding may be going to the West.
4. Write to Ministers in BC, George Heyman (Environment) and Trvena (Transport)

Here are the email addresses of the Federal Ministers:

Minister Wilkinson:,
Minister Garneau:
Minister Jordan:
Minister Qualtrough:

You can find the email address of your MP here:

The chair of the Federal Ontario Liberal Caucus is
Ms Ruby Sahota and her email address is: 

Here are the email addresses of BC Ministers
Minister Heyman:
Minister Trevena:

RBT2 Panel Report due out today

Submitted by: admin

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The RBT2 Review Panel released its report on March 27 2020 and sent it to the Environment Minister. 

The Minister is expected to release that report to the public - as soon as March 30. Indeed according to the Terms of Reference:
"Upon receiving the report submitted by the Review Panel, the Minister will advise Aboriginal groups, government bodies, the public and other interested parties that the report is available.

The attached paper describes in some detail the steps to be taken in making a decision as to whether the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project is approved.
Please remember, it is either the Environment Minister, or the Federal Cabinet, that makes the decision, not the Panel. The attached paper describes what the Minister has to take into consideration. In the event that the Cabinet is called upon it also details that process.
This paper puts down a clear marker for the decision makers - be it the Ministry of Environment or the Federal Cabinet.
Action from this point will be determined by what is in the Panel Report and how the Federal Government handles this.
It is very clear. Roberts Bank Terminal 2 will result in significant adverse environmental impacts that cannot be mitigated. Furthermore the effects that this project will likely cause cannot be justified. 

New Report - RBT2 Irreparable Environmental Harm

Submitted by: Admin

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This new report provides the only complete story on Roberts Bank Container Terminal 2 and its environmental assessment by Federal Review Panel.


In this report you will find:

  • The misinformation put out by VFPA on its market performance (poor) and its inaccurate projections for future volumes (missed the last five forecasts).
  • Market realities and a flawed business case for RBT2 (there is no business case - at $3.5 - $4.0 billion it would be the most expensive terminal anywhere in the world).
  • The unique Roberts Bank Environment, its values and how RBT2 will destroy it.
  • New independent peer-reviewed science that the Panel has not seen. It validates what Environment Canada has been saying all along. RBT2 will result in significant adverse environmental effects that will be immediate, continuous, and cannot be mitigated.
  • The fatally flawed partisan non-peer reviewed VFPA science is thereby debunked.
  • Details of the negative environmental impacts on birds, fishes, crabs, Orcas and humans.
  • A listing of the large number of groups and entities that are opposed to RBT2.
  • The mishandling by the Panel of the environmental assessment, its failure to exercise authority and its bias towards VFPA.
  • The political interference that has plagued the assessment all the way through.
  • Conclusions - details that demonstrate that RBT2 must never be built.
  • Reference links to the science, and reports.


If you find this disturbing then tell Jonathan Wilkinson, the Environment Minister. Call his North Vancouver Constituency Office 604 775 6333. Or email him at

New Science Supports Environment Canada Scientists - T2 will decimate Roberts Bank

Submitted by: Admin

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A new peer-reviewed study, by internationally recognized experts in wetland ecology, (now published in Frontiers in Marine Science in relation to the importance of biofilm for the breeding migration of Shorebirds) has confirmed what Environment Canada scientists have been saying all along. The ecosystem integrity of Roberts Bank risks being destroyed by further port development.

Read the new study here


The choice is very clear. Let the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority build a second container terminal on Roberts Bank and watch one of the richest and most important ecosystems for migrant and wintering waterbirds in Canada be destroyed. Or protect this important stopover site on the Pacific Flyway by preventing any further port or industrial development on Roberts Bank.  

Throughout the environmental assessment of the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project (RBT2) these Environment Canada scientists have battled the Port Authority’s partisan non-peer reviewed science that has sought to downplay the environmental impacts. The fear has been that the Port Authority’s influence in Ottawa would override Environment Canada concerns. 

No longer. This new study, on the importance of biofilm for the breeding migration of shorebirds, validates the work done by Environment Canada scientists. They were right all along. If RBT2 is built it is likely to result in the significant degradation of one of the most important ecosystems, in terms of birds and biodiversity, in the whole of North America. As the scientists have repeatedly said, RBT2 will result in significant adverse environmental effects that cannot be mitigated.

When the Review Panel report is published - expected in a matter of weeks - the Minister of Environment will need to address two questions:
1. Will RBT2 result in significant adverse environmental impacts that cannot be mitigated? Clearly the answer is YES.
2. Is RBT2 in the national interest, sufficient to override the environmental issues that would result if RBT2 were built? That answer is a definite - NO. 

Will Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson do the right thing? Will he live up to the government’s commitment to protect internationally recognized wetlands? Or will he bow to the Port Authority’s desire for a new container terminal, even though there is no business case?

Write to him at and tell him to reject the Roberts Bank Container Terminal 2 project.

War on Science - Alive and Well in Ottawa

Submitted by: Say No to T2

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On Oct. 26 2018 a community group submitted an Access to Information Request to Ottawa trying to uncover political interference in the science surrounding the Environmental Assessment of the proposed Container Terminal 2 on Roberts Bank in Delta BC.

You will not be surprised to learn that over 400 days later still nothing has been received.
In August 2019 scientists with Environment and Climate Change Canada submitted their final report to Ottawa on the Environmental Assessment, citing significant adverse environmental effects that cannot be mitigated if Terminal 2 is built. The report was intended for the federally appointed Environmental Assessment Panel. It never reached them. Someone, somewhere in Ottawa decided to suppress that report. Contrast that with the final report from a Crown Agency - the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority - which got through to the Panel unscathed. Why, because of course its paid-for non-peer reviewed science says there is no problem. If that raises questions for you it should. Why is the muzzling selective? Why is it that the science promoting the new terminal gets through to the Panel, yet that of Environment Canada, the federal regulators, does not? Is there someone in Ottawa that is determined to get T2 built regardless of any environmental issues, and so is preventing the Panel from seeing any scientific facts that raise environmental concerns? Sure looks that way.

Roberts Bank is world renowned as a site of international significance for the conservation of the world’s birds and other wildlife. Roberts Bank is recognized as a globally Important Bird and Biodiversity Area by a number of national and international  organizations, . Building Terminal 2 on Roberts Bank will degrade this world class ecosystem. It has the potential to drive some species to extinction. It risks further depletion of salmon stocks. It puts the already endangered Orcas at even more risk. Millions of migratory and other shorebirds rely on Roberts Bank as a critical food source. Building T2 risks depleting that food source.

Does anybody in Ottawa care?  Do federal agencies or the Port Authority care? It seems not.

National and International organizations care. Birdlife International, Birds Canada, BC Nature, Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network - they all care. They have all stated that Terminal 2 on Roberts Bank must not be built.

Do you care?
If you do write to the Minister of Environment

Find out more by watching this short video
and visit Birdlife International Important Bird Areas in Danger 
and scroll down to find the Fraser Delta.



Submitted by: ADMIN

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1. The internationally recognized Roberts Bank ecosystem is critical for wildlife on a massive scale.

2. Environment Canada scientists and independent experts believe any further port development on Roberts Bank risks significant adverse environmental effects that will be immediate, continuous and cannot be mitigated.

3. Environment Canada scientists have been muzzled by Ottawa and prevented from fully explaining their concerns to the RBT2 Environmental Assessment Panel.

4. The RBT2 proponent, Vancouver Fraser Port Authority – a crown agency – has discredited and disparaged Environment Canada scientists.

5. The RBT2 Environmental Assessment Panel has refused to consider alternatives to RBT2 that are safer, less environmentally damaging and will cost less than half to develop.

6. With current west coast Canada container capacity expansions already underway there is neither need nor business case for RBT2 for many years to come.

7. The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority,  confident that RBT2 will be approved, is already going to tender for the RBT2 developer and operator, even before the Panel renders its decision.

You can find more detail and information on these topics by reviewing the other news items and the information about RBT2 on our website. 

Please email  if you have questions to

Air Pollution - Does Port of Vancouver Care?

Submitted by: admin

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Are you aware of the recent report on air pollution/quality and the prime cause - diesel polluting trucks. 

For several days in November there was  an air quality advisory for Metro Vancouver. 
This topic was covered extensively on CBC’s Quirks and Quarks program. 

As reported the study looked at major highways in Canada,
It found serious air pollution and health issues.

Why is it a problem for folks living in Delta - because of the largo volume of diesel polluting tractor-trailers, the majority of which are hauling containers to or from Roberts Bank and associated warehousing and logistics facilities in Delta, Richmond and elsewhere. 
There has been much research of this problem over the years. The Moving Forward Conference in Los Angeles has researched air pollution in the Los Angeles area near major ports. Medical professionals explained the seriousness of this pollution. PM 2.5 spewed out by heavy emitting trucks is part of but not totally the problem. These trucks also emit ultrafine particles and black carbon, not only from their exhausts but from break linings and tires as they wear. This PM 2.5 and ultrafine particles are taken deep down into the lung and cause serious health issues. 

Major truck routes that transit Delta include Deltaport Way, Highways 17, 17a, 91 and 99. Add to that secondary truck routes, such as Highway 10 and 64th and you can realize we have a major pollution problem right here in Delta. These port trucks pass close by schools, residential areas and hospitals. Deltaport today has 3700 truck transits per day. Add to that many more truck transits involving container moves to/from logistics centres - at least another 2000 per day - and we can clearly see the extent of the Port truck pollution problem. And all that is without the truck traffic chaos and further air pollution that would result if Roberts Bank Terminal 2 (RBT2) is ever built. 

This issue needs addressing now by the federal government. It has been left to grow and fester far too long. Transport Canada has the power to deal with this pollution issue. Vancouver Fraser Port Authority (VFPA) is an agency reporting to Transport Canada. The hands off attitude of the Transport minister in the federal government has got to stop. We expect Transport Canada to get involved:
  • Require VFPA to implement short haul rail and short sea shipping immediately and reduce the number of port truck trips. 
  • Recognize that RBT2 is a non starter. The air pollution issue of itself should be enough to stop RBT2, let alone the other huge negative environmental impacts. 
  • Block any VFPA plans for further container terminal expansion in Metro Vancouver (beyond what is already in progress) and instead place that expansion in Prince Rupert.

This issue was not properly dealt with by the CEAA RBT2 Environmental Assessment Panel. Why? Because the VFPA successfully impeded the Panel terms of reference by ensuring that the Panel was not permitted to investigate anything beyond the RBT2 footprint. This was and is disgusting, yet another example of how this port authority has disdain for the residents of Delta and other lower mainland residents. 

The re-elected Liberal government says it is serous about addressing climate change and environmental issues. Regardless of whatever the Panel recommends, RBT2 must be abandoned. Canadians’ health is more important than building an ego-driven second container terminal that is environmentally damaging and has no business case. 

Write the MP for Delta - - and tell her you want her to take up this air pollution/quality issue as a high priority.

Political Interference Undermines the RBT2 Environmental Assessment

Submitted by: Admin

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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

Submitted by: Roger Emsley

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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?

Submitted by: Action in Time

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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.

Read their newspaper:

Common Ground Terminal 2 newspaper Press Quality.pdf

RBT2 Terms of Reference Changed

Submitted by: admin

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Breaking news - the Minister of Environment just changed the Panel Terms of Reference! You can see the proposed amendments here:
The principle change is that marine shipping impacts are now to be part of the panel decision making process. Prior to this change the Panel were not to consider marine impacts, but simply pass on comments to the Environment Minister. 

Flawed Rationale for RBT2

Submitted by: admin

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1. RBT2 Rationale is Heavily Flawed 

The underlying problem with the RBT2 environmental assessment is the myth that the environment, the economy and communities need to be in balance. This is the so-called sustainability factor. 

The way that the CEAA Panel is carrying out the review is compounding the problem. The Panel appears to believe that all it needs to do is to review the purpose of the project and not the need. Furthermore the Panel appears to believe that its review must focus solely on Roberts Bank, without looking for better more cost effective alternatives elsewhere (Prince Rupert). This approach is inexorably flawed. 

By using this flawed approach the Panel is failing to ask the following key questions:

1. Is there a risk of environmental degradation if RBT2 is built?
YES. End of story for a new port on Roberts Bank. 
2. Does Canada need to increase container capacity for its trading needs? 
3. Since Roberts Bank is no longer in the picture where else is port expansion possible? Prince Rupert, primarily, and also expanding other existing container terminals. 
4. What else should Canada be doing to further its container trade objectives? Limit and start to reduce the transhipment of US container traffic through West Coast Canada ports. This US traffic adds little or nothing to Canada’s economy. 
5. Are communities impacted by container ports and the resultant road and rail traffic? YES. Light pollution, air pollution, noise pollution, traffic congestion, rail accidents. 

It is not in Canada’s national interest to build a container terminal whose capacity is not needed and whose environmental and community damage will be significant.

2. RBT2 Assessment Update

Vancouver Fraser Port Authority (VFPA) has rushed to get all its responses into the Review Panel of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, so as to be ready for an expected Public Hearing that may come in a few months, (April?).  

The Panel received a mass of additional information from the VFPA and requested public comments on the sufficiency of this information.  This comment period closed on February 8 2019. Submissions from the public, First Nations and regulatory authorities are very critical and identify many areas where VFPA has failed to provide sufficient information. A number of public comments have shown that VFPA has provided incorrect information and misleading information. Equally VFPA has dodged certain areas such that some important information is missing altogether. Will the Panel recognize that much more information is needed, or will political considerations take precedence such that they proceed to a public hearing anyway?

3. Environmental Issues
Roberts Bank is Canada’s major stopover on the Pacific Flyway, with millions of migrating birds travelling over 3 continents, including 20 countries. The estuary and surrounding watershed supports Canada’s largest populations of wintering waterfowl, shorebirds and birds of prey with global and local recognition: 

  • Designated by BirdLife International as an Important Bird Area (IBA). It is the most significant IBA out of 597 sites in Canada. 
  • Highest designation by the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN) as a Hemispheric WHSRN Site.
  • Declared a Provincial Wildlife Management Area (WMA) and recognized to have the highest concentration and bird diversity anywhere in Canada
  • Declared as a UN Ramsar site by the International Convention on Wetlands. Shockingly Canada would not include Roberts Bank in the RAMSAR site even though the fresh water/salt water blending area is key to the rich ecosystems. 

The Project will harm the fragile estuary with habitat loss and destruction, as well as noise, light, water, and air pollution. The losses cannot be effectively mitigated.  

A central issue is that of biofilm, a food source vital to western sandpipers, VFPA claims “...the Project is not predicted to result in significant adverse effects on biofilm or affect the availability or quality of food available to northward migrating WESA”. This comes from captive consultants paid for by VFPA. This totally ignores the concerns of independent experts and importantly submissions to the Panel from Environment and Climate Change Canada that identify impacts to the Roberts Bank wetlands and wildlife as severe, immediate, irreversible and immitigable. 

The widened causeway required for RBT2 will cover over a significant area of biofilm. 

RBT2 is also a serious issue for juvenile salmon. The juveniles hide in the eelgrass and shallows of Roberts Bank as they transition from river to ocean. Juvenile salmon need the shallows and are repeatedly pushed into deep water by all the causeways and training walls in the delta. By building this huge - 460 acres - RBT2 pod and expanded causeway, and because there are no culverts in the port causeway, the salmon are forced to swim around these obstacles and are more exposed to predators and other dangers. Chinook salmon are already in decline and are a critical food source for the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales (SRKW). VFPA has been asked repeatedly to install culverts in the Deltaport causeway and have refused to do so citing cost and feasibility – both false. With the RBT2 widened causeway installing culverts gets even more expensive.  

Increased vessel traffic through the Salish Sea is already a concern for the endangered SRKW. The vessel noise, possibilities of collision are all contributing factors to a decline in the SRKW population. The Salish Sea cannot take any more vessel traffic. 

4. No Business Case

VFPA has never produced a business case. Many times they have been asked, but never have they produced a document that any normal business entity would rely on to justify a project of this magnitude. Instead they keep repeating the myth of a coming “container crunch”. These are taxpayer assets and funds being invested in a multi-billion dollar project with no indication of the expected return on investment. If this were anything other than a government agency there would have been a proper business case identifying the capital investment, gross and net revenues, return on investment, plus a full risk analysis. 

VFPA  is promoting  the myth of a ‘container crunch’ in the near future, i.e. not enough capacity in Western Canada for all the expected container traffic. VFPA has a full-blown PR campaign to mislead government, stakeholders and the public. Numerous articles to this effect are in the media and on the Port website, claiming incorrectly that the west coast will run out of container space by the mid 2020s.   THERE IS NO CAPACITY CRUNCH ON CANADA’S WEST COAST. THERE IS PLENTY OF CAPACITY NOW AND MUCH MORE COMING ON STREAM. 

VFPA consistently underperforms against its forecast increases in container traffic. It has missed every one of its last five forecasts and its cumulative annual compound growth rate languishes at 3 percent. Prince Rupert’s container volumes have doubled in the last five years, with its volumes increasing 12 percent in 2018 alone. 

With expansions under way or in place at two of Vancouver’s existing container terminals and a third one expected to start soon, plus ongoing expansion at Prince Rupert, there is no shortage of container capacity. In fact Prince Rupert has the potential to grow to as much as 4 – 5 million containers (TEUs) if the market requires it.  

Prince Rupert has seen its container volumes grow by double digits whereas Vancouver languishes in the three percent range. Prince Rupert is two sailing days closer to Asia, has faster, less congested and easier rail access to the east and has very few environmental issues when compared to Vancouver. 

RBT2, if built, would be the most expensive container terminal project anywhere in the world. Expansion at Prince Rupert can add container capacity equivalent to RBT2 for half the cost. 

Rail traffic in and out of Vancouver is a big issue. The rail route east through the Rockies is heavily congested. Grain and potash shippers are complaining that their products are being delayed. More oil is being moved by rail. Too many accidents on this route have already occurred. Likewise Port trains have been involved in recent tragic accidents at grade level crossings in the Lower Mainland. This southern route simply cannot handle the huge increases in containers were RBT2 to be built.  

Presently VFPA in total handles 3.4 Million containers (TEU) per annum, + 1.0 Million for Prince Rupert, total West Coast 4.4 Million TEU.  If total West Coast Canada container traffic expands by 3- 4 % per annum, (generous in view of past history), it will grow to 8.2 Million by 2040, still far less than future capacity of 10 – 11 million if the total build out is required.  AND ALL THIS WITHOUT RBT2. 

Furthermore as much as 25 percent of containers handled are US origin or destined, bringing little or no economic advantage. US traffic can be re-routed via US ports. 

5. Community Issues

VFPA, with its desires to build RBT2, ignores real community issues. 

  • Traffic congestion caused by port container trucks is significant, especially in the morning and evening rush hours. The lower mainland road system cannot handle huge increases in port road traffic. 
  • Rail traffic through the lower mainland is an issue. Community roads are blocked many times a day with trains crossing at grade level. There have been three recent road/rail accidents in recent weeks with fatalities. 
  • Light pollution is an issue. RBT2 will add light intensity to an area that already suffers from light pollution. 
  • Air pollution is an issue, with port trucks and trains dumping increased levels of harmful emissions into urban and rural areas. 
  • Anchorages for vessels waiting for harbour space has become a significant issue in the Gulf Islands.

 6.    Why is RBT2 a non-starter?

  • The public is opposed;
  • Aboriginal groups are opposed;
  • Existing terminal operators are opposed;
  • Project benefits are overstated; no cost benefit analysis;
  • The port of Prince Rupert is better placed for Canada’s container terminal expansion and to satisfy Canada’s trading needs;
  • Prince Rupert and Vancouver area ports will have plenty of capacity out to 2040 and beyond;
  • RBT2 environmental impacts are significant, immediate, permanent and not able to be mitigated;
  • Community impacts – traffic congestion, light, noise and air pollution - are significant.
  • Cumulative effects are being ignored;

7. Bottom line - RBT2 is neither needed nor justified.



RBT2 Terms of Reference - said to be unlawful

Submitted by: Admin

(Show News Item)

A new submission today, put up on the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 (RBT2) Canadian Environmental Aassessment Agency (CEAA) registry, underlines what many of us have said since the beginning of this project. 
Simply put it was and is unlawful for the Minister of Environment to have limited the scope of the assessment and thereby excluded marine shipping from the Panel-led RBT2 environmental assessment. This was of course done at the behest of the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority (VFPA) who wanted the terms of reference for the Panel limited such that the assessment was to include only the areas “under the care and control of VFPA”. Not only did this therefore exclude marine impacts - especially those related to the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales - but it also excluded community impacts from truck and rail traffic, as well as air, noise and light pollution beyond the port footprint.

Lawyers working on behalf of the T’Sou-ke Nation have now put in a submission, just posted to the CEAA registry (#1334), that basically says the action taken by the Minister of Environment, in limiting the terms of reference, was unlawful.

Two paragraphs in the submission sum it up: 

"The effect of the unlawful exclusion is even larger in this case. Project-related marine shipping activities are likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects on southern resident killer whales in this EA as well, and there are no proposed measures to mitigate such effects. However, due to the unlawful exclusion, the Minister will not be required to consider and make that conclusion under s. 52(1) of CEAA 2012 (or to refer the Project to the Governor in Council pursuant to s. 52(2)). The net effect is that the Governor in Council will not be required to consider whether the significant adverse environmental effects that Project-related marine shipping activities are likely to visit upon southern resident killer whales can be justified in the circumstances." 


"All of these considerations unequivocally establish that marine shipping is inextricably and fundamentally important to the Project. Indeed, it should go without saying that a marine terminal has no purpose outside of the context of facilitating marine shipping. Especially in light of the direction provided by the Court in Tsleil-Waututh, the inescapable legal and factual conclusion is that marine shipping is “incidental to” the marine terminal and therefore forms an integral part of the designated project to be assessed." 

So the Minister of Environment and the Panel have been put on notice. Either change the terms of reference to include marine shipping as part of the designated project (RBT2), or:
Doesn’t get much clearer than that.

No Economic Reasons for Roberts Bank Container Terminal 2 (RBT2)

Submitted by: Susan Jones

(Show News Item)

No Economic Reasons for Roberts Bank Container Terminal 2 (RBT2)

                  September, 2018

There is no economic justification for the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project (RBT2) which will destroy globally-significant Fraser River estuary habitats that support migrating salmon, resident orcas and millions of migratory birds at Canada’s crucial stopover of the Pacific Flyway. 

The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority (VFPA), known as the Port of Vancouver, is strongly lobbying the Government of Canada to let them dredge and fill 445 acres of waterlot in the estuary for an island and expanded causeway to double container capacity with 3 new berths. The stated reasons and purpose of Terminal 2 are not supported with evidence of accurate forecasts, capacity and demand.  

Currently, a federal Review Panel is examining the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Project.  The economic information in the EIS is incorrect and misleading as VFPA business forecasts are not being realized and B.C. ports are already expanding capacity to handle container traffic demand.  

The container business is reported in TEUS, “twenty-foot equivalent units”, which means each unit is equivalent to one twenty-foot container.


Unfortunately skewed statistics are being presented to the federal government in the EIS and in a 2017 Transport Canada Report.  They are ignoring a report from three transportation experts advising:
“…policy makers develop container capacity in Prince Rupert before making investments in Vancouver”…and further that: “…a systematic approach be taken to achieve an understanding of port capacity before a conclusion is reached that a particular port must necessarily be larger.” 

In 2016, the Port of Vancouver secretly submitted an information brief on the RBT2 Project to Canada’s Members of Parliament in an attempt to bypass due process,“Welcome to our first newsletter, written exclusively for a government audience.”

Documented statistics and information can be found in a submission to the Review Panel by the Boundary Bay Conservation Committee.

New Video - Western Sandpipers Under Threat

Submitted by: Admin

(Show News Item)

One of the wildlife casualties, if Roberts Bank Terminal 2 (RBT2) were to be built, is likely to be the Western Sandpiper, so we have banded together with the Citizens Against Port Expansion Group (, and a number of others to produce a new video to raise the profile of the plight of the sandpipers.

Here is the video:

The Western Sandpiper could become collateral damage if Vancouver Fraser Port Authority (VFPA) receives permission to construct a new second container terminal at Roberts Bank in Delta (RBT2). A key issue is BIOFILM, a slimy goop that Western Sandpipers feed on. Roberts Bank is a major stop on the Pacific Flyway for the migrating sandpipers on their journey to the arctic where they breed each year.

Roberts Bank, with its:

  • Bird Life International designation as a Global Important Bird and Biodiversity Area. 
  • Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network designation as a site of Hemispheric Importance (only eight such sites exist in the whole of the Americas).
  • BC Government designation as a Wildlife Management Area - "providing crucial wintering grounds for the highest number of waterfowl and shorebirds anywhere in Canada".
  • Worldwide recognition as a site of natural abundance and biodiversity, one of the most significant such areas in the Americas and worldwide

- is under threat from further port expansion. Studies have shown that Roberts Bank’s unique biofilm will be significantly degraded by the construction and operation of RBT2, putting the millions of shorebirds and other wildlife species that rely on this rich ecosystem at risk. For sandpipers the results would be devastating.

No biofilm equals no food for the birds and no future.

Vancouver Fraser Port Authority and its consutants disagree. Its consultants suggest that the negative impacts to the biofilm can be mitigated. Not true. Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) scientists have stated major concerns with the RBT2 development, saying that “… the impacts on Biofilm will be permanent, irreversible and continuous”. Many other groups also share The ECCC viewpoint.

The negaitve impacts go well beyond the Western Sandpipers. Millions of other shorebirds, the Orcas, salmon, herring, crabs, eulachon, several species at risk and other wildife will also be impacted.

There is simply to much risk. The precautionary principle must apply. RBT2 must be abandoned.


Capacity Crunch in Vancouver - No Way!

Submitted by: Admin

(Show News Item)

Is the West Coast Canada facing a container terminal capacity crunch by 2025? 
Not at all. 
The West Coast Canada will have more container capacity by 2025 than it has today.
Mr Silvester continues to mislead, ramping up the rhetoric, claiming: "….. that at a forecast growth rate of four per cent per year, additional capacity will be required on the West Coast by 2025.” Why, because he is fixated on building a second container terminal on Roberts Bank in Delta BC (RBT2). 
Don’t buy it, simply look at the numbers.
Significant expansions at Vancouver Fraser Port Authority (VFPA) container terminals have been announced, some of which are in progress and others due to commence soon. Deltaport is almost done adding 600,000 TEUs, In Vancouver's inner harbour Centerm has just announced a two thirds increase in capacity, and Vanterm is also going to increase its capacity. Equally the Prince Rupert container terminal is expanding and has recently announced even further expansions on top of those that it made in 2017. 

All of this additional capacity is to come online before 2025.

That is not all. There is further expansion potential at the two Vancouver inner harbour terminals - 1 million TEUs or more. And at Prince Rupert there is another 3 - 4 million TEU expansion potential.
Using actual VFPA statistics the picture is clear. VFPA will NOT have used up all the additional capacity that is planned for its container terminals. Therefore overall the VFPA terminals will have more spare capacity than they do today.

Looking at the West Coast as a whole (therefore including Prince Rupert) by 2025, and using a  four percent growth rate, the west coast container terminals will have used up 60 percent or less of the additional capacity that is coming on stream.

Using a more realistic long term growth rate of 3 percent VFPA will have used up 70 percent or less of the additional capacity coming on stream. And for the West Coast as a whole 56 percent or less of the additional capacity will have been used up.

Then there is the issue of US containers. VFPA handles significant volumes of US container traffic, potentially upwards of 800,000 TEUs per year. Handling US containers adds nothing to the Canadian economy. In addition US Ports, especially the Northwest Seaport Alliance, are planning to take back significant volumes of that US traffic - away from VFPA.

So to say that the West Coast will run out of terminal capacity by 2025 is simply not true.

This smoke and mirrors game is being played so that VFPA can add a second terminal on Roberts Bank (RBT2) which the statistics show is not needed. Looking to the future, if VFPA were to gain approval to proceed with RBT2 they would be building a second container terminal whose capacity would be close to the two million US containers that West Coast Canada might be handling by 2025. And this in an area that is the number one Important Bird Area in the Americas, whose ecosystem would be severely damaged were RBT2 to be built. Are we really prepared to damage an ecosystem rich in biodiversity to handle US containers that add little or nothing to the Canadian economy.

 It is clear - all the projections indicate that West Coast Canada has sufficient container terminal capacity to satisfy Canada’s trading needs for years to come.
Canada does not need RBT2 to satisfy its trading needs. The Fraser River Estuary and the wildlife species that rely on it do not need the additional negative environmental impacts. The current terminal operators do not want RBT2 to be built.

Bird Festival and Ornithological Congress

Submitted by: Roger Emsley

(Show News Item)


Delta MP and Minister Carla Qualtrough unveiled new Canada Post stamps celebrating some of Canada's bird species at the opening of the Bird Festival and International Ornothilogical Congress on August 20.


The festival and congress are a real opportunity to display the wonders of our region's birds and diversity to the many international visitors . 

Visitors will be enjoying a number of tours during the Congress that will include visits to Roberts Bank and Brunswick Point where hundreds of thousands of shorebirds stop to feed and refuel during their northward and southward migrations.

The opening commenced with a wonderful parade of birds starting at Stanley Park and  ending at Jack Poole Plaza.IMG_6433.jpeg

Much is wrong with RBT2 – tell the Panel

Submitted by: Roger Emsley

(Show News Item)

Much is wrong with RBT2 – time to tell the Panel 

The federally appointed Review Panel (the Panel) established to review the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project (RBT2) proposed by the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority (VFPA) is asking for input. The panel wants to know if VFPA has now provided sufficient information for this project to proceed to the public hearing phase. 

Answer – No, far from it. The information provided thus far fails to provide an independent, reasoned, science-based rationale sufficient to determine that the RBT2 project will not cause significant harm to the Roberts Bank ecosystem should the project be approved. In fact it is just the reverse. There is a high degree of uncertainty that VFPA has failed to address. 

So, now it is your turn. Make sure you have your say. Tell the Panel and your MP.
Here is how: 

1. Write Your MP.

2. Write to the Panel:

What is deficient with the VFPA Environmental Impact Statement for RBT2? Despite the 15- 20,000 pages of material submitted by VFPA thus far they are still deficient in dealing with key issues, including: 

1. Biofilm impacts and the very survival of certain shorebirds and other wildlife species are central to the whole RBT2 development. VFPA and its paid consultants are trying to tell us that RBT2 will not impact the biofilm that is critical to the very survival of shorebirds, the Western Sandpiper in particular. The Port’s responses on this issue are self-serving and biased. Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) disagrees with the Port’s findings and conclusions. ECCC has been very specific – not only are they not satisfied with the Port’s answers on species at risk impacts, they totally disagree with the Port on biofilm impacts. They state:
 “In particular, impacts to biofilm could potentially implicate the long-term viability of Western Sandpipers as a species. ECCC similarly characterizes impacts to Western Sandpipers as potentially high in magnitude, permanent, irreversible, and continuous”. 
An independent international biofilm experts has this to say “At this point in time, and well into the foreseeable future, our knowledge of the (mudflat) ecosystems is so limited that anyone who says that the port construction will not compromise Roberts Bank is talking through his hat”. He goes on to state:”
 … it is obvious that the shorebirds will be compromised right off the bat, and the specific microbial characteristics will also be changed as a function of the sedimentary changes which will undoubtedly occur due to altered current regimes.  How those will cascade up to the other living levels is simply not known.   ….. deciding to go ahead with the terminal project is a huge ecological gamble, and once it's built, there's no going back”. 
Damning condemnations. Add to that the fact that the widened port causeway will cover over significant areas of biofilm and it is clear the Port’s conclusions on this important issue are suspect.

2. Changes in salinity. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has stated that the information put out by the Port and its consultants thus far is insufficient to support the conclusions reached by the Port. There is absolutely no certainty in terms of environmental impacts and a lot of confusion. Without a high degree of clarity on the issue of salinity, there is no way in which a reasoned science-based decision can be made at this time 

3. Shorebird populations are in decline. Here is what the New York Times reported recently:
 “A worldwide catastrophe is underway among an extraordinary group of birds — the marathon migrants we know as shorebirds. Numbers of some species are falling so quickly that many biologists fear an imminent planet-wide wave of extinctions.”
The Canadian Wildlife Service reported recently, advising that with Western Sandpipers the 2017 season had the lowest number of Western Sandpipers on record since 1991. They went on to state that the overall trend from 1991 to 2017 indicates a decline of -2%/year (P = 0.09). Does the Port agree with this – no. They state that the Western Sandpiper population is stable. 

4. Roberts Bank. Over ten years ago Environment Canada stated that further port development at Roberts Bank risked breaking the chain of the Pacific Flyway. The Port ignored this and is trying to go ahead anyway. The Port has thus far refused to comment on comparisons between the East Asia/Australasia Flyway, where there have been huge declines in shorebird populations due to port and industrial development, and the Pacific Flyway. Why won’t the Port address this point. 

5. The Precautionary Principle, enshrined in Canada’s environmental regulations. Basically the principle is “better safe than sorry”. Therefore this principle states that where there are threats of serious irreversible damage from a development, such as RBT2, and lack of scientific certainty then the project should not proceed. To proceed risks serious environmental damage as already stated by Environment Canada. If RBT2 is built and the damage occurs this will be a serious international embarrassment to Canada. So again better safe and sorry – don’t build RBT2. 

6. Other Wildlife and Endangered Species. The potential for serious or irreversible damage, plus lack of full scientific certainty goes well beyond shorebirds. The environmental health of Roberts Bank is critical for juvenile salmon, herring, crabs, Great Blue Herons and the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales.  

7. Do we need another container terminal? No. The current expansions now in progress at existing lower mainland container terminals plus those at Prince Rupert, as well as other capacity increases in the planning stages, are sufficient for Canada’s trading needs for many years to come. RBT2 risks damaging the prospects of existing terminals and adds container capacity that will flood the market. Current stakeholders are opposed to this project which if built would be the most expensive container terminal development in the world.  

Make sure you have your say. 




Celebrating the return of the Western Sandpipers

Submitted by: Roger Emsley

(Show News Item)

Once again in spring 2018 The community groups Citizens Against Port Expansion (CAPE) and Against Port Expansion (APE) celebrated the return of the Western Sandpipers - familiarly known as Peeps - to Roberts Bank in Delta BC.


The Peep In this year was held April 28 at Brunswick Point on Roberts Bank Dyke Delta BC.

Later in the year July/August  you can view them as they migrate south for the winter. Drive west down River Road through Ladner. Park at the end of the road and walk along the dyke.

Link to map:,-123.1484303,16z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x5485e15dfafc7b4f:0x234438b1179c6d70!8m2!3d49.0682183!4d-123.15198 


At this years Peep-In we explained how building a second container terminal puts Western Sandpipers and millions of other shorebirds at risk. We explained the Green Wave - how wildlife follows the green wave as their essential food sources bloom and provide the maximum nutrient intake that then supports migrtion patterns. Importantly Environment and Climate Change Canada on February 12 2018 released a damning report on the RBT2 project environmental impacts.

The Western Sandpipers fly north each spring, following the Pacific Flyway, from their overwintering grounds in central and south America to breed in the Arctic. Roberts Bank is a major stopover for the Peeps. They stop to feed and re-fuel for their next long leg north. Their major food source is the unique biofilm found on Roberts Bank. Without access to this biofilm these small birds will be unable to continue their flight north to breed. Despite this the Port of Vancouver is trying to build a second container terminal on Roberts Bank (RBT2) which will likely degrade or destroy this biofilm.


Let's send a clear message to the Port and the regulators.


Keep up the pressure to stop the Port of Vancouver destroying this major wildlife habitat on Roberts Bank


Submitted by: ADMIN

(Show News Item)

Bird Studies Canada has just released a news brief "Birds Make Headlines in BC", authored by James Casey, Fraser Estuary Program Manager, Bird Studies Canada

Here is the news release

For those who follow local news in British Columbia, it would seem that birds have been cropping up a lot so far in 2018. The International Ornithological Congress and Vancouver International Bird Festival are still five months away, but we are already starting to see a number of stories featuring these promising events!

The increased attention on birds is also highlighting some serious issues around the management of birds and bird habitat. For example, Environment and Climate Change Canada recently voiced concerns about risks to Western Sandpipers and other birds posed by the proposed Terminal 2 expansion on Roberts Bank. This was closely followed by an opinion piece by Nature Canada and the University of Victoria Environmental Law Centre on the inadequacies of Canada’s Migratory Bird Convention Act, which is intended to protect migratory birds and their habitats.

But, it hasn’t all been bad news. We also saw the City of Surrey reach out to inform the community about its long-term Climate Adaptation Strategy. The strategy includes options for maintaining bird and wildlife habitat in the face of rising sea levels. You can visit the Coastal Flood Adaptation Strategy page to learn more or weigh in on options for the Mud Bay area.

The province is also taking feedback on how to modernize the management of the Agricultural Land Reserve, which may be of interest to those living in the Lower Mainland. If you would like to see bird and biodiversity values taken into consideration, now is the time to express your views.

Lastly, the City of Delta recently announced that it has developed a Bird and Biodiversity Strategy, emphasizing that Delta – along with the local governments of Richmond, Surrey, and Whiterock; and Tsawassen First Nations – manages the most important piece of bird habitat along the Pacific Coast of North America.

Conserving the Fraser River Estuary Important Bird and Biodiversity Area is a huge responsibility, and an area in which our governments have often fallen short. Because of poor past performance, the Fraser Delta now faces a number of major proposals that undermine the health of the estuary, and are leading to the destruction of bird habitats in ways that could have population-level effects. If you care about birds and the healthy ecosystems they represent, now is a good time to connect with your elected officials and tell them how important the health of the Fraser is to you.

The Roberts Bank Terminal 2 project is likely to open for public comment in only a couple of months. However, it is important to remember that it is likely the federal cabinet that will decide whether the project will proceed, so you may wish to contact your Liberal MPs now if you have comments or concerns about this project. This summer’s barbeque circuit will provide more opportunities to urge MPs across the country to ensure favourable outcomes for birds, and a healthy, functioning environment for future generations. Taking action to maintain the health of the Fraser Estuary is a good place to start.

Bird Studies Canada conserves wild birds through sound science, on-the-ground actions, innovative partnerships, public engagement, and science-based advocacy.

To find our more about Bird Studies Canada please visit


RBT2 - Damning Criticism By Environment Canada

Submitted by: Roger Emsley

(Show News Item)

The Federal Panel conducting the environmental assessment of the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 project (T2) had recently asked advice of Environment Canada as to whether the description of the potential adverse effects of building T2 on migratory birds and the mitigation measures proposed by the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority (VFPA) were appropriate. The panel wanted to know if Environment Canada agreed with the VFPA, that if mitigation measures were implemented then there would be no residual effects to coastal birds.

Last week Environment Canada responded to the Panel, stating in part:

“Environment and Climate Change Canada maintains that there is insufficient, science-based information to support the Proponent's finding that the Project would not adversely impact intertidal biofilm and consequently, migratory shorebirds in general, and the Western Sandpiper species in particular. ECCC characterizes the Project's residual adverse impacts on biofilm due to predicted changes in salinity as potentially high in magnitude, permanent, irreversible, and, continuous. ECCC's confidence in the EIS's predictions is characterized as low (IBID). In particular, impacts to biofilm could potentially implicate the long-term viability of Western Sandpipers as a species (IBID). ECCC similarly characterizes impacts to Western Sandpipers as potentially high in magnitude, permanent, irreversible, and continuous.”

A damning response, that as reported yesterday in the Vancouver Sun by columnist Larry Pynn, strikes a potential deathblow to the T2 project:.

As Roger Emsley stated in the Vancouver Sun and Province article if the ECCC response "... were a torpedo, I’d say the … port has been holed below the water line,” He then went on to say “We clearly have an environment at Roberts Bank that is fragile, that cannot withstand any more port development, and, finally, Environment Canada has come out with a definitive statement that should stop this project in its tracks.”

And so, should the T2 project be stopped? YES. Years ago Environment Canada stated that any further port expansion at Roberts Bank could break the chain of the Pacific Flyway. Mr. Silvester (CEO of VFPA) and his management team have consistently ignored that advice and moved forward to propose a new port development slap bang in the middle of Roberts Bank, one of the most Important Bird Areas in the whole of North America. 

The port authority has done nothing to protect the mudflats and wetlands that are critical to the very survival of millions of shorebirds. T2 is also detrimental to the survival of the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales, to salmon, herring, crabs, eulachon and other wildlife species.

Not only that but Canada’s trading needs can be and are being satisfied by expansion at existing container terminals. VFPA ignores the port of Prince Rupert, even though it has almost unlimited expansion potential - at less than half the cost of T2, without many of the environmental issues.  If built T2 would be the most expensive greenfield port development in the whole world.

It is time the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority recognized that this project is not going to be approved and stopped wasting any more taxpayer funds.

If you are interested in reading the full Enironment Canada response you can view it here

China stops development in its coastal wetlands

Submitted by: Admin

(Show News Item)

China has just announced a plan to halt all business related land reclamation and development projects along its coast.

This is a huge boost to the beleaguered East Asian Australasian Flyway.
So if a Chinese government agency were planning to build a container terminal similar to Roberts Bank Terminal 2 it would now be prevented from doing so. China gets it - wetlands are important to a nation’s health and wellbeing. 
So if China can do it, why not Canada?
The announcement can be seen here.
The recent announcement of revisions to Canada’s environmental assessment regulations are a disappointment. They fail in many aspects to repair the damage done by the Harper government. Canada continues to pay lip service to its policies on wetlands and marine ecosystems protection. The Pacific Flyway is under the same kinds of threats as the East Asian Australasian Flyway.
One important policy announcement that could show Canada is serious about environmental protection would be for the Canadian government to mandate an end to all future port development on Roberts Bank.
Write to the Federal Environment Minister:

and suggest she take that action.

Port Light Pollution Impacts Shorebirds

Submitted by: Admin

(Show News Item)

The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority's plans to add a second container terminal on Roberts Bank, slap bang in the middle of a major migration stop-over area on the Pacific Flyway, will deliver yet another blow  to millions of waterfowl and shore birds. Light pollution is one of a number of reasons the Port is so detrimental to Fraser Estuary wildlife. The lights on Roberts Bank have increased enormously in the last few years. Port lights shine much brighter than other lighting in the area. Lighting impacts from Deltaport are bad enough. The additional light pollution from Terminal 2, coupled with the Port's refusal to bury the powerlines along the port causeway, puts millions of birds at even greater risk.

There is a new paper just published on light pollution impacts

The below article by Anne Murray provides more detail on light pollution.

Effects of Light Pollution on the Environment of the Fraser River Estuary

By Anne Murray

 The Fraser River estuary, including areas of Delta both within and outside the dykes, is a major migration stop-over and wintering area on the Canadian west coast for about 5 million birds. Waterfowl, shorebirds and song birds pass through on migration along the Pacific Flyway, travelling between the Arctic and temperate latitudes, and many also stay for the winter in the wetlands and farm fields of the estuary. Internationally-established criteria rank the estuary as the top site in the whole of Canada for number and diversity of birds, under the Important Bird Areas program. The Fraser Delta qualifies as a Wetland of International Importance under a United Nations designation (“Ramsar site”) and as a hemispheric site for shorebirds under yet another international program.

The Canadian Wildlife Service has conducted numerous surveys from the 1970s onwards, showing how waterfowl and shorebirds use wetlands and agricultural land in the Delta. These studies have been augmented by those of conservation and naturalist organizations, such as Ducks Unlimited and the Vancouver Natural History Society, which also regularly surveys bird of prey populations. The Fraser Delta is the most important wintering area in Canada for diversity and numbers of raptors, such as eagles, hawks, falcons and owls. The Delta Farmland and Wildlife Trust has also clearly demonstrated the importance of farmland to raptors, ducks, geese, swans and song birds, while experienced birders frequently find rare birds among the more than 320 species recorded here. In addition, Delta has significant populations of mammals, amphibians and important fish species.

Excessive night lighting emanating from settled areas has increased dramatically in the last few decades and has become a major issue here in the Fraser River estuary. Much night lighting is proven to be inefficient, unnecessary and expensive light pollution. Typically across North America, one third of all artificial lighting shines upwards or sideways, wasting $1 billion a year in energy costs and causing significant environmental and sociological effects. Sky glow is at its worst during periods of rain and fog, conditions that prevail markedly in the Fraser delta during winter.

Artificial light disrupts the natural cycle of daylight and darkness, that activates hormonal regulation of many human and wildlife biological functions. Darkness stimulates the production of melatonin, a hormone that is a key factor in circadian rhythms like sleep cycles and body temperature, blood and urine chemistry, immunity to disease and seasonal behaviour patterns. True darkness is needed for biological activities ranging from deer giving birth, to owls hunting successfully. Overexposure to light at night triggers abnormal behaviours and conditions, effects that may damage entire food chains. Greenhouse lights, for example, have already been observed to change the way some predators hunt, a phenomenon that could eventually alter the balance of nature in the ecosystem. Bright lights at night disorient flying birds and moths and are particularly dangerous for the hundreds of bird species that migrate at night. They are drawn to the light, becoming confused and blinded and collide with structures or fall to the ground exhausted. Tens of thousands of song birds die every year, crashing into floodlit smokestacks, transmission towers or other lighted buildings; the death toll from night lighting is calculated to be over 100 million birds a year across North America. A reduction in some moth populations has been linked to excessive light kills, and although this issue has not been studied in Delta, there are many insect-eating species that would be affected by moth declines. Aquatic species are also at risk from bright lights near the water. Normal salmon migration has been observed to peak during the darker nights of the monthly lunar cycle, making these fish particularly vulnerable to artificially bright nights.

From a human perspective, light pollution severely affects our quality of life and disrupts our activities, including the ancestral right to gaze at the beauty of stars and planets in the night sky. Studies are proving “lights out ~ live longer”, as evidence is found of hormone-related health problems linked to artificial daylight, including breast cancer, pineal gland disfunction and depression. Citizens everywhere are beginning to protest the loss of the night. Delta and British Columbia can learn from other communities across North America how to set about regulating night lighting.

 The science is unquestionable. Migratory birds occurring in Delta are an international and legal responsibility for which we are the stewards, and dark skies are an important contributory factor to the sustainability of their populations. Not only the health of birds, but also that of humans, other animals and perhaps the whole ecosystem is at stake.



Western Sandpipers In Decline

Submitted by: admin

(Show News Item)

Fewer and fewer Western Sandpipers, means we must do more and more to protect them.

 “Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children's children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.” Theodore Roosevelt

The count of Western Sandpipers passing through Roberts Bank in the spring of 2017 was the lowest on record since annual counts began in 1991. This spring the estimates suggest only 190 thousand birds migrated through Roberts Bank.

The Western Sandpiper, one of the Western Hemisphere’s most abundant shorebirds, uses Roberts Bank in British Columbia, specifically Brunswick point, as a critical stop over site during spring migration, while on the move to nesting grounds in western Alaska and southern Siberia from their overwintering areas stretching from California to Peru. A large percentage of the entire species of Western Sandpipers uses Roberts Bank, where they graze the fatty-acid rich biofilm (unique to the area) to fuel their next leg on the way to their breeding grounds. Sadly the Roberts Bank site is under threat, as a result of the Port of Vancouver’s proposal to build a second container terminal, effectively industrializing the whole area.

Peak counts of Western Sandpiper have been over 1 million birds (in 1994), but typically they range between 90 to 170 thousand birds around the end of April. Spring 2017 saw a maximum daily count of Western Sandpipers at 40 thousand birds.  Population estimates of Western Sandpipers typically range between 400 to 640 thousands, with a huge estimate in 1994 of 1.8 million birds, which is more than half of the estimated total number of Western Sandpipers in the world.

Not only are the Western Sandpipers at risk. Millions of shorebirds rely on Roberts Bank and the Fraser Estuary, as do juvenile salmon, southern resident killer whales, crabs, herring, eulachon and sturgeon.

The precautionary principle must apply. Independent science is clear that there is too much at risk. We must stop those “greedy interests” from the further industrialization of Roberts Bank. The damage would be irreversible and mitigation impossible. There simply is no compensatory habitat for shorebirds. The Roberts Bank Container Terminal 2 Project is not sustainable. It must be stopped – now.

T2 - Unwanted and Unnecessary

Submitted by: Admin

(Show News Item)

A new paper has recently been published, authored by our sister group, Citizens Against Port Expansion - CAPE


This paper was used in recent meetings between APE and CAPE members and MP for Delta, Carla Qualtrough and as well with Green Party MLA Adam Olsen. We are also going to be using it in meetings with other elected representatives to publicise the stupidity of proceeding with the Roberts Bank Container Terminal 2 Project.

Taxpayers are investing in T2 - despite what VFPA claims

Submitted by: Admin

(Show News Item)

A recent CD Howe Institute research report recommends that the Federal Government restrict Canadian port authorities (read Vancouver Fraser Port Authority) from investing risk capital and instead rely on private capital to finance expansion.

But that is not all that the report says. For one thing it disputes the VFPA assertion that their revenues are not taxpayer monies. Since port properties and the revenues they earn from them are Canadian assets then indeed these are taxpayer monies.

VFPA has committed $863 million of what it claims are its own funds in container terminal expansion. These are in fact taxpayer funds. As the report notes "While it is true that these are not direct tax dollars, this money could instead be returned to the Federal Government and devoted to other projects. So taxpayers are investing in the project". So despite what VFPA keeps trying to claim, the monies being invested in the Roberts Bank Container Terminal 2 (T2) expansion are taxpayer monies.

 Not only that but the report suggests that Ottawa "... should cast a critical eye on the proposed  T2 expansion project". In the same report the institute also indicates that if private capital is unwilling to finance the project - when they have financed other terminals throughout Canada and the world - this suggests that future demand is too uncertain for T2 to earn reasonable returns.

Does this sound familiar? It should be, this is what APE has been saying for several years. Add this to the potential for  significant environmental damage if T2 were to go ahead and these seem to be a good reasons for Ottawa to direct VFPA to abandon T2 and save tax payer monies that can then be invested better elsewhere.

If you agree then please write to the MP for Delta, the Right Hon. Carla Qualtrough at


Disturbing Revelations at the 2017 Vancouver Fraser Port Authority Annual General Meeting

Submitted by: Roger Emsley

(Show News Item)

A new submission to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency Review Panel for Roberts Bank Container Terminal 2 has been submitted and is now on the CEAA website. The following is that submission.

Having attended the recent Vancouver Fraser Port Authority (VFPA) annual general meeting, I am concerned and confused with some of their messaging and the information provided at that meeting. Some of what was said at that meeting by their senior management appears to run counter to information in the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 (T2) Environmental Impact Statement.

 At the AGM the VFPA stated that their vision is to be the world’s most sustainable port. I cannot speak to their other port operations, but in terms of their container operations sustainable they are not. Sustainability has three pillars: Economy, Environment and Socio-Community.

1.   Economy:

They were challenged at the meeting about their container forecasts. They keep claiming that their forecasts are accurate but their own statistics demonstrate this is not the case. See the below attachment:containing detailed information on container volumes and forecasts:.


These give a clear indication that VFPA continually overstates future container volumes - of course to try and justify the construction of a second container terminal on Roberts Bank.

In fact if we look at the total picture for Canada West Coast container terminal capacities in the attachment we see that by 2020 or thereabouts the West Coast will have added another 3 million in container capacity (TEUs), giving a total capacity on the west coast of more than 8 million TEUs. When we compare that with the actual volumes handled on the West Coast in 2016 of 3.7 million TEUs (of which VFPA handled only 2.9 million), this demonstrates that T2 is not needed in the foreseeable future. In fact VFPA management in answering questions at the AGM admitted that they are now delaying the need for T2 until the end of the next decade.

Clearly there is no business case. VFPA always claimed that they would only move forward with this project if the private sector (i.e. operators) viewed it as viable. But:

1. It is now 2 years since the Request for Qualification process started (June 2015) and almost 1.5 years (end Jan 2016) since the short-listed parties were announced and VFPA has still not identified a private investor that is willing to undertake the project.
2.. VFPA claimed that they would finalize the selection of the Terminal Operator by end 2016 (not achieved) and have selected the Infrastructure Developer by the end of 2017 (process not even  launched yet).

Why is VFPA continuing to spend millions of dollars on a process for which no private entity has ever indicated serious interest? This lack of interest seriously undermines VFPA's claim that T2 is actually necessary. Terminal operators around the world regularly invest (and seek out their own environmental permitting)  in projects where there is a demonstrable requirement for additional capacity. The lack of operators even willing to bid for this project (even with VFPA doing the environmental permitting) should be interpreted by the Panel as a clear message that T2 is not required.

Furthermore the admission at the AGM that VFPA relies on handling significant volumes of US containers for its forecasts identifies a further risk when viewing what is happening at US west coast ports. Seattle Tacoma volumes are up 8 percent and Los Angeles/Long Beach up 7.5 percent, much higher than VFPA container growth. Seattle Tacoma are on a rapid expansion path and will have a 6 million container capacity by 2020. This is another clear indication that a T2 that relies on significant US volumes is not likely to succeed.

2.   Environment

Then there is the question of environmental damage. At the AGM VFPA ducked questions on the potential damage to the Roberts Bank ecosystem.

Is the CEAA Review Panel for T2 aware that VFPA have embarked on sampling and analyzing biofilm on Roberts Bank? This renewed effort - over a year after the Port supposedly completed their environmental assessment - is ineffectual and much too late. Oddly only now are they waking up to the need for analyzing  samples for biofilm diatom species composition and their critical nutritional (Omega-3 - fatty acid) value to shorebirds. Years after the VFPA proposed adding a second container terminal in the heart of the richest and most diverse estuary in the whole of Canada are they suddenly realizing the perils. Why now? - Because seemingly, thanks to independent science, they are aware that the public and other agencies (including the Review Panel?) have cottoned onto the huge risk that T2 could endanger an entire species of migratory shorebirds, western sandpipers, as well as undermine commercial salmon fisheries and other wildlife.  Equally why use consultants paid by the port to carry out this complex work, when there are plenty of renowned independent researchers here in Canada, Japan and Europe that could give an independent assessment at less cost? As we have seen previously, in-house studies paid for by the VFPA are not going to give anything other than a self-serving perspective.

There are an increasing number of published peer-reviewed scientific papers that demonstrate just how important biofilm is to shorebirds and how this particular biofilm is sensitive to the changes in salinity and currents that would be created by T2. Not only that but if built T2 and its widened causeway would cover over part of this important biofilm.

The Review Panel's decision should be clear: the removal of the omega-3 content of this unique biofilm is either the nail in the coffin for T2, or for Western Sandpipers. Current Port efforts are a forlorn hope that they can somehow show that T2 will not cause the degradation that we know is likely to be the case. The precautionary principle has to be applied, this international migratory bird and wildlife area is much too important to risk its degradation by port development.

Last but not least the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales (SRKW) are known to be in serious trouble. Their numbers have decreased by 7 in the last year alone. The moves taken by the Port – such as its echo program – are insignificant and ineffective when compared to the plight of this endangered species.  T2 and its related vessel operations will cause the SRKW further stress, will further endanger their main food source, and there is every likelihood that this species will go extinct. That would be a real feather in VFPA's cap.

3. Socio Community

At the AGM VFPA admitted that there are still more numbers of empty port semi-trailer rigs than there should be moving to and from its container terminals. The reality is that Lower Mainland communities, Delta and Richmond in particular, simply cannot handle any more trucks on the roads. It is port trucks that are a significant cause of massive line ups and traffic congestion, for example at the George Massey Tunnel. Delta and Richmond cannot absorb the thousands of additional truck trips that T2 will generate. VFPA has failed totally in investing in alternatives to container trucking to and from its terminals. They have done nothing to promote short haul rail or short sea shipping and continue to be lukewarm to the concept of inland terminals, such as the one at Ashcroft in BC. In fact at the AGM the VFPA CEO said that they want more port-trade enabling land close to its terminals and expressed concern that some distribution and logistics operations are moving to places like Calgary because there is a lack of port industrial land in the Lower Mainland. This is exactly what should be happening. There is no need for distribution and logistics centres to be located adjacent or close to marine terminals. Ports elsewhere in the world understand this – why is it so difficult for VFPA to understand? Is it simply empire building at community expense?

Time for the Port to wake up to independent modern science, withdraw their doomed Roberts Bank T2 application and make amends for their eco-destruction elsewhere in the delta. Time for the Port to start walking their talk and assume the new mantle of sustainable environmental leadership that Canadians expect.



Let the Fraser Live: Lower Fraser and Estuary Being Destroyed

Submitted by: Susan Jones

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A new paper has just been released entitled "Let the Fraser Live"
The Port of Vancouver has numerous projects along the Fraser River and in the Estuary which are industrializing one of the most important rivers and estuaries in the world.

This document is a call to action!


The only way governments are going to listen is if they are bombarded by emails from their constituents.

Therefore we encourage you to write to your MP and other elected officials.

Forecasts demonstrate no need for T2

Submitted by: Susan Jones

(Show News Item)

The Roberts Bank Container Terminal 2 Project in the Fraser Estuary is not needed

The Port of Vancouver proposes to build a 3-berth Container Terminal 2 on a man-made island at Roberts Bank, Delta, British Columbia.  The project requires dredging and filling in 445 acres of ecologically- important waterlot in the Fraser River estuary to add 2.4- million TEUs of container capacity.  (TEU = Twenty-foot container equivalent unit)

The project will do irreparable damage to the unique Roberts Bank ecosystem which supports Canada’s highest concentration of migratory birds, the world’s most famous salmon river, as well as endangered species such as southern resident killer whales, white sturgeon and eulachon.  These amazing assets are at risk of extinction.  Basically it is the remaining wetland habitats of the Fraser River estuary that need preserving, at least the 20 % fragment that is still intact.

Three main reasons why Container Terminal 2 should not be built: 

 1)  Growth in the Container business at Port of Vancouver, at least the Canadian-bound portion, has been flat now for several years, and is likely to stay that way for many years.

 2)  Past forecasts of said growth by the Port have been consistently over enthusiastic; actual container traffic since 2007 never reached even the lowest-case projected levels.    Therefore the business case for building another huge container terminal simply doesn’t hold water.

 3)   Roberts Bank is critical to the survival of huge numbers of migratory birds on the west coast of North America, i.e. it contains mudflats which are unique on the West Coast and cannot be replicated anywhere else in the area.   Some of this precious habitat has already been destroyed by previous developments (Tsawwassen ferry terminal and existing Deltaport).    Terminal 2 will destroy much of what is left.

 1)    Growth of Container trade

The Container trade is only important to Canada’s economy, if the said containers either contain Canadian goods, (exports), or are goods intended for the Canadian market, i.e. imports we need.    Containers coming from Asia to the USA, or the reverse, are of marginal economic benefit to Canada, and if they require additional terminals that contribute to the destruction of valuable ecosystems, such as Roberts Bank, are hardly worthy of our support.

It is revealing to separate out the Canadian container trade from the US trade.   Port of Vancouver has conveniently lumped the two together to bolster its overall numbers, in a futile effort to justify expansion at Roberts Bank.   In the past, the US trade was not all that significant to Canadian ports, but due to the recent labour disputes, it has (temporarily) assumed a much greater importance.  
































Canadian Traffic










USA Traffic










Total Traffic




















US % Share











Sources: OSC 2014 Report, Table 8.1 (2007-2013 data)                                                          

PMV, CEO, Robin Silvester: “Port’s stats indicate solid growth”, Delta Optimist, Aug, 26, (2015 US share)

PMV: Statistics Overview 2015

Financial Post, August 18, 2015, K.Owram

Financial Post, August 18, 2015: Port Metro Vancouver expects to retain business following U.S. ports labour dispute:

“For planning purposes, Port Metro Vancouver assumes that approximately 15 per cent of its container business is destined for the U.S., but that number is currently closer to 25 per cent and CEO, Robin Silvester suspects 20 per cent may be a more accurate assumption going forward.”

This graph also shows that Canadian-bound TEU at Port Vancouver have been essentially flat since 2007 with a small decrease in recent years.


The 2016 total container business through Vancouver has decreased 6.4% as of May, (y-on-y), probably reflecting recent loss of US trade. (US have reported sharply higher container trade this year).–-Year-to-date-May-2016.pdf

2)    Past Forecasts not borne out by actual container statistics; distortion of existing container capacity

The Port of Vancouver consistently understates actual port capacity and overestimates forecast growth.  As we all know, the container business grew rapidly in the years when it was being established, so the port deliberately includes statistics from a long time ago, to inflate the current situation – stating:

“Since 2000, Port Metro Vancouver has seen container growth of 7.1 per cent per annum.”

Of course that’s true, but it’s also ancient history; the container trade matured about 8 years ago and the business has levelled off since then. 

Since 2007 the Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) has only been 2.54 %, and even that modest increase is mostly due to this temporary US trade, which is now being retrieved by the US ports.    Stripping out this US trade, we see that the all-important Canadian trade is actually down slightly since 2007, (before the financial crisis 2008-2009 temporarily distorted all stats)

Compound Annual Growth Rate for Canadian trade since 2007 is now slightly negative at -0.35% as of 2015, hardly a case for building Terminal 2.

 Port of Vancouver Container Business


Total TEUs

CAGR Total TEUs since 2007

USA Volumes


% USA Volumes

CAGR USA TEUs since 2007

Canadian Volumes


% Canadian Volumes

CAGR Canadian TEUs since 2007

Simple growth rate Canadian TEUs since 2007

































































































































































The Port of Vancouver states maximum container capacity at Canada’s West Coast ports (Vancouver and Prince Rupert), will be 6 million TEU by 2020, whereas documented information reveals capacity will actually be 8.2 million, even without the Roberts Bank Container Terminal 2. 

Canada’s West Coast Container Capacity by 2020



TEU Capacity







Fraser Surrey Docks


Port of Vancouver Total




Port of Prince Rupert


West Coast Total








The total 2015 container business for the Ports of Prince Rupert and Vancouver was 3.8 million TEU. (Vancouver: 3 million TEU and Prince Rupert: 776,412 TEU)

By 2020, the combined ports of Vancouver and Prince Rupert will have enough capacity to more than double the current B.C. container business without a second terminal at Roberts Bank.  This provides time for better planning and heeding the recommendations from a 2008 Transport Canada Advisor Report that recommends:

“…policy makers develop container capacity in Prince Rupert before making investments in Vancouver” and further that: “…a systematic approach be taken to achieve an understanding of port capacity before a conclusion is reached that a particular port must necessarily be physically larger.”

(Strategic Advisors Report, Asia Pacific Gateway and Corridor Initiative Report and Recommendations, 2008; Burghardt, DeFehr and Turner)

3)    Critical value of Roberts Bank ecosystem

Roberts Bank has international significance of as a vital feeding area for:

-           migratory birds of the Pacific Flyway on their incredible journey from South America to the Arctic, and back again

-          more than two billion juvenile salmon coming down the Fraser River

-          endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales (Orcas) in Georgia Strait and beyond

The mudflats at Roberts Bank provide a unique feeding area for upwards of 600,000 migrating Western Sandpipers and 200,000 Dunlin, migrating over thousands of miles from the tropics to the Arctic every year.  These tiny shorebirds perform a miracle every year completing this exhausting long distance trip, that is one of the true spectacles of nature.

They rely on the rich nutrients found in biofilm in the mudflats at Roberts Bank.  The area is unparalleled on the West Coast due to the perfect mix of reduced salinity, nutrients from the Fraser River, low tides, and warmer spring temperature which provide the perfect conditions for tiny diatoms to produce omega-3 fatty acids just as the sandpipers migrate through this area. 

Without these mudflats, the whole migratory flock, including one of the most important Western Sandpiper flocks in the world, could never make it to the Arctic, and thus would cease to exist on the West Coast.    This would a tragedy.

References:  Sources of Information for container capacity at Vancouver and Prince Rupert

 a)      Deltaport Capacity: 3,000,000 TEU by 2020

 Projections of Vessel Calls and Movements at Deltaport and Westshore Terminals

Deltaport Terminal Road and Rail Improvement Project (DTRRIP), November 28, 2011

Pages 21; 22; 24; 26; 40; 41

Environmental Assessment Report, Deltaport Terminal Road and Rail Improvement Project; Hemmera; November, 2012, bottom of page 276 (Scrolled 299/450)

Deltaport: 2,100,000 TEU prior to Road and Rail Improvement Project

Transport Canada: Pacific Coast Container Terminal Competitiveness Study - TP 14837E, Hanam Canada Corporation; March 2008;  Page 36 (Scrolled 54/106)

Terminal Systems Inc. Global Business; Local Interests; September 2007

b)      Centerm Capacity: 1,800,000 TEU by 2020

Container Capacity Improvement Program, Update November, 2014; page 3

c)       Vanterm Capacity: 850,000 TEU by 2020

Global Containers Canada, Company Profile, Page 7/15

d)      Fraser Surrey Docks Capacity: 150,000 TEU by 2020

Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project: Meeting Canada’s Trade Demand; Project Rationale; Page 21

e)      Prince Rupert Port Authority Capacity: 2,400.000 TEU by 2020

Journal of Commerce; CMA CGM gain slots to Prince Rupert, capping busy year for port, Bill Mongelluzo, November 19, 2015




Save the Fraser Delta from Mega Projects

Submitted by: Susan Jones

(Show News Item)

The Fraser River and Estuary is one of the most important areas in the whole of North America for its environmental diversity. It is recognized globally for its biodiversity and for the millions of shorebirds and other wildlife that it supports.

You would expect that an area so environmentally significant would have the highest level of protection that a nation can bestow on it.

And you would be dead wrong.

Various mega projects involving port and industrial development put the Fraser at risk. In fact the Fraser River and Estuary are at a tipping point.

The Boundary Bay Conservation Committee has recently published a report – “Save the Fraser Delta from Mega Projects”. This landmark report explains in detail the projects that are being planned and the environmental risks that result. Read the Full report here:


And then write to your MLA, your MP, the Prime Minister your Premier and other politicians and demand that they support an independent multi disciplinary science based study of each of these projects and their associated risks.  

Port of Vancouver to Get Its Powers Reduced

Submitted by: Admin

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Finally a Liberal MP from the Federal Government is speaking out about the abuse of power at Port Vancouver. Read the Vancouver Sun article of April 15 2016:.

Thank you MP Joe Peschisolido (Steveston-East Richmond) for stating the concerns that many of us have held for a long time about the way Port Vancouver carries out its business. Yes the Port rides roughshod over community concerns.  This is all about an unaccountable, unresponsive federally appointed agency. This is all about an agency – i.e. Port Vancouver – that has massive powers and yet is answerable to nobody.  This is all about a Port that can ignore significant environmental issues and amazingly has the power to make decisions on all kinds of projects for which the Port stands to gain financially. This is not how any government agency should be operating.

It is refreshing to see a local MP state that the Port is going to have to change the way it operates and for its powers to be cut back. This is the REAL CHANGE that many of us voted for. This was one of the core issues in the removal of the previous government.

Now what we really need is for the Federal Government to put in place a multidisciplinary, independent, science-based study to properly assess all the industrial projects that are being proposed for the Lower Fraser River and Estuary. Top of mind is Port Vancouver’s unsustainable plans for a second container terminal on Roberts Bank. This has been labelled already as the most damaging of all the projects which Port Vancouver has got its fingers into.

"The twin signatures of this era have been the mass export of products across vast distances (relentlessly burning carbon all the way), and the import of a uniquely wasteful model of production, consumption, and agriculture to every corner of the world (also based on the profligate burning of fossil fuels). Put differently, the liberation of world markets, a process powered by the liberation of unprecedented amounts of fossil fuels from the earth, has dramatically sped up the same process that is liberating Arctic ice from existence.” 
― Naomi KleinThis Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate

Biofilm Gums Up Plans for T2

Submitted by: Admin

(Show News Item)

An excellent article by Larry Pynn in the March 21 Vancouver Sun explains why Port Metro Vancouver’s plans for a second container terminal on Roberts Bank put that whole world class ecosystem at risk from environmental degradation.

 Read the full Vancouver Sun article here:

In the printed version of this article there is also reference to Otto Langer’s  report and a copy of the map of the Lower Fraser River and its estuary outlining the planned developments – most threatening of which is T2 - that will create a threat to fish and wildlife populations and our quality of life in this region and for all Canadians.

On the Map below number 1 is Roberts Bank Terminal 2 and the threat level is highest at 10


 You can view the full report by Otto Langer by clicking here

As usual PMV was quick to downplay the potential impact of T2 but, unlike PMV’s own studies, this is independent science and therefore not influenced by the result that PMV wants so that it can prove that the environment is not at risk from the T2 project.  PMV also makes the ridiculous assertion that there will still be plenty of biofilm for the migratory birds, completely ignoring the fact – as independent research has shown - that what is important is a special combination of light, salinity, nutrient and temperature factors which create the conditions to enrich the biofilm and produce the fatty acids that the birds require. These factors will change as a result of T2 and put the Western Sandpiper migration at risk.

As has been said many times “listen to what the birds are telling us”.

Prime Minister - Save the Fraser

Submitted by: Otto Langer

(Show News Item)

The Lower Fraser River and its Estuary: Conservation Steps Needed to Protect and Sustain Fish and Wildlife and Our Quality of Life.
An Urgent Action Plan for the New Trudeau Government
By Otto E. Langer MSc Fisheries Biologist. March 15 2016

The Lower Fraser River and estuary has been through tremendous development over the past 160 years that has greatly altered its ability to support fisheries and wildlife. Presently a series of projects are proposed when Canada has greatly diminished laws to properly assess these projects and protect the environment. Projects of greatest negative impact concern in order of priority are:

1. Roberts Bank Terminal 2 project (greatest risk)
2. New Richmond – Delta Bridge.
3. Jet Fuel Project.
4. PMV habitat banking program
5. Kinder Morgan bitumen pipeline project
6. Increased water temperatures.
7. Fortis LNG Facility on Tilbury Island
8. Gravel mining in fish habitat areas
9. Flood control initiatives
10. River dredging for flood control and construction sand
11. Port expansion to Mission.
12. Increased shipping traffic in the estuary.
13. Surrey Fraser Dock coal export facility
14. 4th runway for Vancouver International Airport (lowest risk at this time).

 An urgent action plan for the new government must include:

1. Port Metro conflict of interest between development and environmental protection must be resolved.
2. Make PMV accountable to public and local government.
3. Restore pre-2012 conditions back to CEAA, Fisheries and NWPA Acts.
4. Restore DFO will and capacity to do the job.
5. Address climate changes/ temperature issues affecting the Fraser.
6. Re-establish a Fraser River Estuary Management type organization.
7. Re-establish the federal role in environmental assessments in the Lower Fraser.

Otto Langer recently sent this report to the Prime Minister, key ministers in the Federal Government and selected politicians at the provincial and regional level urging them to take action to save the Fraser River and Estuary. To read the  full report and recommendations click here


We also encourage you to write to your federal member of parliament, your MLA and your local council expressing support for these recommendations and urging governments at every level to start acting upon them.

Who Is Looking After the Fraser River's Estuary

Submitted by: Anne Murray

(Show News Item)

  March 1st, 2016 Georgia Strait by Anne Murray

During the decade of the Harper government, many important environmental programs and safeguards were dismantled. Government scientists were unable to speak up about issues, environmental laws were weakened, and important working groups were terminated.

Notable among these was the multi-agency Fraser River Estuary Management Program (FREMP), which, together with the Burrard Inlet Environmental Action Program (BIEAP), was responsible for such tasks as baseline mapping of estuary habitat and coordinating project-review applications.

When the doors closed at the FREMP-BIEAP offices on March 31, 2013, after 28 years of operation, the role of coordinating project reviews was handed to Port Metro Vancouver (PMV), the leading proponent of development in aquatic habitat in the Lower Mainland. It was a classic case of the fox looking after the hen house, with the potential for strong conflicts of interest.

PMV, also known as the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, is the largest port in Canada and is accountable to the minister of transport, under the Canada Marine Act. It manages more than 16,000 hectares of water, over 1,000 hectares of land, and about 350 kilometres of shoreline, from Roberts Bank and the Fraser River to Burrard Inlet.

Its mandate includes planning, real estate, safety, project environmental review, permitting, and infrastructure development designed to facilitate trade through Canada’s west coast gateway. The Port is not concerned with the overall, cumulative effects of development on the Fraser estuary’s world-class fish and wildlife, and it is only required to pass the bureaucratic thresholds of environmental assessments under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act 2012.

PMV’s lead role as review coordinator was meant to be temporary, “until a new form of partnership was developed and launched”. Three years later, the port corporation still holds the coordinator position while simultaneously driving many major building projects in the Fraser Delta. The B.C. government is taking a hands-off approach to environmental assessment, despite several areas of provincial jurisdiction that should be addressed. Some projects are even sliding through without proper federal or provincial environmental reviews.

It is high time to form a new multi-agency coordinating body to take over responsibility for the environmental protection of all habitats and wildlife in the Fraser River Delta, estuary, and adjacent waters. The Fraser is the world’s greatest salmon river, and it is in the top 50 heritage rivers globally. The estuary is critical habitat for fish and wildlife: a BirdLife International Important Bird Area, host to internationally significant flocks of birds migrating on the Pacific Flyway and Canada’s largest wintering habitat for waterfowl and birds of prey, and a regular foraging area for endangered southern resident orcas.

Without independent oversight, these amazing assets are at risk of extinction.

The timing is particularly urgent, with a newly elected federal government just finding its feet, coupled with the out-of-control proliferation of major projects under consideration. These include: PMV’s three-berth Terminal 2, which will double the size of the Roberts Bank container port (currently undergoing a federal environmental assessment panel review); the $3.5-billion bridge replacement for the George Massey tunnel, which will be designed to accommodate tankers moving to upstream terminals; the proposed WesPac Tilbury Marine Jetty project, currently under B.C. Environmental Assessment Office review; and a fourth runway for Vancouver International Airport that could intrude into Sturgeon Banks.

Other new projects on the Fraser River include: the Surrey-Fraser Docks direct-transfer coal facility; a Vancouver Airport Fuel Facilities Corporation (VAFFC) fuel-delivery system approved for the South Arm of the Fraser in Richmond; and the major expansion to FortisBC’s Tilbury liquid-natural-gas (LNG) facility that was approved by B.C. government order-in-council without an environmental assessment.   

Not only do these megaprojects undergo incomplete environmental assessments, they also lack transparent and credible cost-benefit analyses. Although they are portrayed as benefitting the Canadian economy, millions of tax dollars fund the required infrastructure while the public is excluded from planning and evaluation processes. The results are contracts that guarantee long-term financial benefits to vested interests.

Delta farmland, already heavily impacted by sprawling housing developments, industrial-size greenhouses, and the purchase of Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) land for speculative purposes, is disappearing under blacktop. The South Fraser Perimeter Road, now Highway 17, facilitated traffic flow into the heart of delta farmland and further fragmented the agricultural land base. The price of farmland is well beyond the reach of most active farming families, who, typically, rent many of the fields they work. Irreplaceable transitional habitat and farmland of Burns Bog were also destroyed as the highway cut through unprotected bog lands. 

Roberts Bank was designated as a Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in 2011, 16 years after Boundary Bay and Sturgeon Banks achieved WMA status. Included were 8.770 hectares, but more than 2,200 hectares of equally important habitat were omitted, presumably to allow for non-WMA uses in future. Similarly, designation as part of the Fraser Delta Ramsar Site, or Wetland of International Importance, has to date been withheld for Roberts Bank.

More than 1,600 hectares of Delta farmland were expropriated by the provincial government in 1968-69 for port industrial purposes. These Roberts Bank back-up lands were leased to farmers until the late 1990s, at which point some of the lands were offered to farmers for buy-back.

The remainder of the lands were transferred to the Tsawwassen First Nation as part of their treaty settlement in 2009 or were added to the existing rail right of way by B.C. Rail as part of the Deltaport Terminal Road and Rail Improvement Program. Over the past five years, many hectares of the former back-up lands have been optioned or changed hands, as speculative investments driven by port development. PMV as a federal entity may use ALR land for non-farm uses.

The Tsawwassen First Nation has partnered with major developers to construct two megamalls on their once fertile farmland and wildlife habitat near Roberts Bank, and further hectares are being developed for industrial infrastructure and housing. Much of Richmond has already been developed for housing and commercial uses; now some of the remaining farmland along the South Arm of the Fraser River has been purchased outright by PMV.

PMV’s CEO, Robin Silvester, has made it clear that he views the Agricultural Land Reserve as “emotionally but not economically important” to the region and that more should be done to make industrial land available. This viewpoint is contradictory to those who recognize the importance of growing fresh food close to our population centres, especially in view of climate change and food-security concerns.

In 1988, a jet-fuel facility project on the river in Richmond was rejected by an environmental-panel review on the grounds that highly toxic and flammable fuels posed an unacceptable risk to public safety. Yet in 2014, a jet-fuel offloading, storage, and transfer facility and connecting pipeline to Vancouver International Airport were approved by the provincial government for PMV-leased land on the banks of the Fraser River in Richmond. Environment Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada played no role in the assessment process, for which PMV was the key federal participant.

The Fraser estuary is in deep trouble. The integrity of every hectare of this once magnificent wildlife habitat is threatened by the many cumulative developments. The rich farmland of the delta, the best growing area in Canada, is rapidly being speculated out of existence. With a land-use agenda driven by transportation and port interests, the low-lying delta lands of the estuary need a moratorium and a plan. If the Fraser River salmon and the shorebirds of the Pacific Flyway are to survive, we must have a true consideration of all the cumulative impacts of these ports, airports, industrial complexes, housing developments, rail lines, highways, and bridges.

A new coordinating multi-agency group is needed to address the environmental challenges of the Fraser River estuary and its surrounding lands and waters. Port Metro Vancouver should no longer have lead authority over environmental reviews and approvals. A stronger, more effective Fraser River Estuary Management Program (FREMP) would be backed with realistic financial support, adequate staff, and the power to ensure meaningful environmental assessments on all large projects. Its responsibility would be nothing less than the ongoing survival of the area’s native wildlife and the habitats needed to support them.

In the 1990s, Environment Canada created the Fraser River Action Plan. Environmental-quality programs were initiated to clean up pollution, monitor the health of the river, and study such issues as sedimentation transport and its environmental implications in the lower Fraser. Detailed scientific reports were produced and distributed, and annual status reports gave information on achieving targets.

In 1993, “A Living Working River”, a management plan for the Fraser River estuary, was prepared by the Fraser River Estuary Management Program (FREMP). It aimed to improve environmental quality in the estuary while providing economic-development opportunities and sustaining the quality of life in and around the estuary. Despite work on biodiversity conservation and some habitat acquisitions in the next 20 years, this overall vision and coordinated action has now been lost; economic-development opportunities are being fast-tracked while estuarine habitats and quality of life are continually degraded.

In the early 2000s, even the provincial government was interested in producing annual reports on environmental trends in B.C., including biodiversity, climate change, toxic contaminants, water, and human health. It was not long before staff were fired and departments closed. The demands of energy and the rush to become a “gateway” to the world took priority over environmental concerns.

A comprehensive environmental-sustainability plan, based on the cumulative effects of all proposed development projects, is urgently needed to protect the ecological integrity of the Fraser River estuary and the wildlife that depend on its habitats. The best means of achieving this overall perspective and regulatory role is the creation of a new and stronger Fraser River Estuary Ecological Management Program.

Anne Murray’s books on Delta’s natural and ecological history, A Nature Guide to Boundary Bay and Tracing Our Past, a Heritage Guide to Boundary Bay, are available in local stores or from She blogs at

Annual Port Statistics 2015: A Lacklustre Year

Submitted by: Admin

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Port Metro Vancouver Year End 2015 Statistics – a Lacklustre year, Is this the Beginning of a Long Term Trend?

Port Metro Vancouver (PMV) just released its 2015 annual statistics overview. Whilst the report itself is factual there are some questionable statements in the accompanying press release, such as:

1. Growth - “In the last five years, the port has grown by the equivalent of the annual volume of Canada’s second largest port – the Port of Montreal,” continued Robin Silvester. “And we anticipate that growth to continue at about the same rate over the next five years, despite the current slow-down.”

Yes but ……. Total cargo growth in Vancouver between 2006 and 2015 has been 7.2% (not per year, but TOTAL!) whereas growth in Montreal for the same 2006-2015 period has been 23.5%, so the only reason PMV can make that claim is because Vancouver is so much bigger, and by carefully picking the base year (the 2009 crisis when volumes in Vancouver tanked) they paint a rosier picture than the reality.  Furthermore if overall growth continues at this historic rate (less than 1% per annum between 2006 and 2015), then the case for any new terminals (containers or otherwise) – i.e. Roberts Bank T2 – is weak to non existent. 

2. Record Setting ??? - “This is the port’s third consecutive year of strong cargo volumes, with new records set in the container, potash, and grain and agri-product sectors.”

Hardly record setting. Container cargo tonnage is the key figure and it only increased by 2 percent. In Vancouver imports are the real driver of container volumes and laden imports only increased by 2 percent in terms of units or 3 percent in TEUs (twenty-foot equivalents). These are not great numbers -  certainly not record setting. And considering that the US labour issues in 2015 caused an increased diversion of US traffic to Canadian ports it confirms that Canadian container growth is stalled. PMV’s consultant had projected that PMV would handle over 3.15 million TEU in 2015. Actuals were more than 100,000 less – the need for T2 is not there, yet PMV keeps plowing ahead with this project.

Some other numbers of note – (i) empty outbound containers increased by 31 percent over 2014. This is likely due to the China slowdown which is hurting exports to China; (ii) bulk metric tonnage is down 1 percent (a decline of about one million metric tonnes); (iii) break-bulk metric tonnage is down by 3 percent; and (iv) the 7 year Compound Annual Growth Rate for all container metrics - inbound, outbound or total - are all at or less that 3 percent. (The figure Mr. Silvester is using of 5 percent growth includes empty containers – which of course are of no value). Record setting – not so.

Several analysts in the transportation sector are talking about the new normals for container traffic. The suggestion is that future growth in container volumes could be well below 5 percent. Another point analysts are making is that being a terminal operator in the future does not look too rosy, with falling profit margins and rising capital and operating expenditures.

All this demonstrates that the $3.5 billion plus second container terminal on Roberts Bank is just not needed – now nor any time in the foreseeable future. With expansion planned for existing Vancouver terminals plus at Prince Rupert’s container port, all of British Columbia’s container ports have capacity to handle CANADIAN container volumes for many years to come, – WITHOUT BUILDING ROBERTS BANK TERMINAL 2.

PMV Has Its Hands Out for Taxpayer Funds

Submitted by: Admin

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When Global News ran its piece on Jan. 14 about the Minister of Transport's visit to Vancouver, there was little detail on exactly what it was that Port Metro Vancouver wanted. However once you see the news release from the Vancouver Board of Trade (VBOT).

It becomes all too clear. Port Metro Vancouver is now looking to taxpayers to help fund the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project.

Now the VBOT are to be congratulated on ensuring that BC gets its share of infrastructure funding from the Federal Government - but certainly not for Roberts Bank Terminal 2 (T2)!

What is not mentioned is that already planned expansions at West Coast container terminals will almost double container capacity by 2020, giving Canada enough west coast container terminal capacity without the need for T2. Deltaport as well as the Centerm inner harbour container terminal are adding about 1.3 mill containers (TEUs - twenty foot equivalent units). Prince Rupert's container terminal is also expanding in two phases and that will add another approx. 1.5 mill containers (TEUs). Thus the west coast container terminals in Canada will likely be adding close to 3 million containers (TEUs) in capacity by 2020. At annual growth rates of 3 or even 4 percent there is more than enough capacity to satisfy Canada’s trade objectives out to 2030 at least, especially considering that PMV is handling significant volumes (750,000 in 2015) of US containers, which adds nothing to the Canadian economy.

PMV has always claimed that T2 will not involve any taxpayer funds. Imagine the outrage in Delta and other communities - not to mention Global Container Terminals and DP World who are both funding their own expansions - when they find out that taxpayer dollars might be invested in PMV's T2. Here is a project whose business case appears very weak and that will likely result in huge risks to the Roberts Bank ecosystem - the most important ecosystem in Canada in terms of its abundant wildlife and biodiversity. And now PMV wants to get access to taxpayer funds to build T2. Go figure!

Minister of Transport Warned against investing in T2

Submitted by: Susan Jones

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Global News ran a news item last night

In the news item it was reported that Port Metro Vancouver Management took Minister of Transport the Hon. Marc Garneau out on a tour of the Vancouver harbour to give him some ideas on how to spend some of the billions of dollars in infrastructure promised in the fall election campaign.

And it’s been made perfectly clear to the minister that the port should be his top priority.

This generated concerns about the potential for taxpayer funds being used to fund a new container terminal on Roberts Bank.

Here is a letter sent yesterday to Marc Garneau MP, Minister of Transport

Dear Sir,

I was alarmed at the information in the January 14 2015 broadcast by Global News:

“The minister heard Wednesday that a top priority is the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 project at the mouth of the Fraser River in Delta.”

I sincerely hope that you will properly research the claims made by Port Metro Vancouver that a new container terminal is needed at Roberts Bank.  To this date there has been no business case for this project.  There is no Feasibility Study and no Cost/Benefit Analysis.  Other Container Terminal Operators and employees do not want this Project to proceed as it will create unnecessary competition that will negatively impact existing business.  I am concerned that you are being lobbied by Port Metro Vancouver, and ministry bureaucrats of the previous government, and that the information you are hearing is incomplete and inaccurate.

Transportation experts have advised the previous Liberal Government that:: “policy makers develop container capacity in Prince Rupert before making investments in Vancouver.”(Strategic Advisors Report, Asia Pacific Gateway and Corridor Initiative Report and Recommendations, 2008; Burghardt, DeFehr and Turner)

B.C. has ample capacity to handle increases in container trade.  Vancouver, with current and planned upgrades (excluding Terminal 2) will be able to handle 5 to 5.5 million TEUs; current business is around 3 million TEUs.  The Port of Prince Rupert (cheaper, less environmental damage) is expanding and will be able to handle 1.3 million TEUs.  Plans for another terminal will increase capacity to 2.5 million TEUs.  So B.C.’s west coast will be able to handle container business growth that is significantly more than double the current business.  This will not happen for decades, if ever.

You mention in the news clip that: “There is a long list and there are long lists right across the country so we’re going to be looking at all of them and deciding on where is it the most important for us in order to make our trades flows as efficient as possible because it has a big effect on the economy of the country,”

Please do not be misled by the claims of Port Metro Vancouver.  Please note that the main importance to the Canadian economy is the Bulk and Break Bulk shipping which accounts for 82% of the shipping tonnage through Port Metro Vancouver.  The products shipped (exported) in Bulk and Break Bulk are the mainstays of the Canadian economy, i.e. our products such as grains, minerals, lumber, pulp, etc.   These products truly do sustain thousands, perhaps even  millions, of jobs throughout Canada.

The Container business on the other hand, is basically an import business, bringing in manufactured goods for the most part, which sustain millions of jobs in the countries that send us those goods, and some jobs in our retail sector.   It’s nice to get these iPad’s, Mercedes car, Panasonic TV’s, etc. but let us not confuse this with job creation in Canada.  Infrastructure and land requirements for the container business are prohibitively costly to taxpayers. 

Container shipping into Canada grew nicely for a while, (during the ‘fledgling’ years), but isn’t growing at all now.   Instead it is the new business of importing goods into the USA via Canada which is growing, and this doesn’t create any jobs at all, outside of the waterfront/railways connected to PMV.

And it is doing irreparable damage to our scarce and vital farmlands and globally- significant Fraser River delta, just to bring in/out containers for the Americans. Infrastructure and land requirements for the container business are prohibitively costly to taxpayers.  While Port Metro Vancouver will be responsible for finding the financing for the new Terminal, the related infrastructure costs fall to the taxpayer who have already spent over $10 billion, and counting, on the Asia-Pacific Gateway.  Your Government has stated funding for infrastructure is a priority.  Please do not waste more valuable tax dollars on infrastructure for the Vancouver container business.  

As you learned during the election, the Harper Government scuppered the environmental assessment process leading to a highly flawed process.  This is the case for the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project.  Lawyers have advised that the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 fails to adequately address impacts, particularly cumulative effects, on the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales and fish species.  Concerns have been submitted by the World Wildlife Fund, the US Environmental Protection Agency, Metro Vancouver and several local municipalities.  The EIS fails to include vital scientific information on the unique importance of Roberts Bank to millions of Western Sandpipers and other shorebirds.   

Your Government promised to stop this violation of due process.  We are counting on you to ensure that current environmental assessments do not proceed under the flawed process.  Directives from the new Government could order the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency to strictly apply legislation such as credible science, credible cumulative effects assessment, impacts beyond the T2 Project footprint, sincere evaluation of Species at Risk, and inclusion of globally-significant wildlife.    


Susan Jones


Global Trade in Freefall - No need for T2

Submitted by: admin

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Hardly a day goes by without the media reporting on the decline in world trade. Recently we have seen articles about layoffs at major shipping lines, orders for new container vessels being cancelled and global slowdowns in trade growth, to name just a few.

Many of the articles say this is not a blip and point to a long-term slowdown. They talk about trade falling off a cliff. Of course much of this is as a result of significant slowdowns in the Chinese economy, which nobody is forecasting will pick up any time soon.And then along comes Port Metro Vancouver announcing that its container trade to the end of June increased by eight per cent compared to the same period in 2014.

So what is going on? Is Canada not seeing the same trade effects as everywhere else? Perhaps we need to delve into the stats a little deeper. Is the eight per cent increase accounted for by Canadian containers or is this increase accounted for by the fact the port is moving more and more U.S. containers, which, by the way, add little or nothing to the Canadian economy?

It is certainly strange that for a media release at the end of November the port chooses to use the end of June as a measure when it has container statistics all the way to the end of October. In fact at the end of October, for the year 2015, the statistics show the number of full containers handled by Port Metro Vancouver only increased by 2.1 per cent over the same period in 2014. These same statistics also show that the number of empty containers shipped - for which nobody makes any money except the shipping lines - is up a full 26 per cent for the 2015 year to date.

So is Canada seeing similar trade impacts as the rest of the world? Of course. Existing West Coast container ports not only have spare capacity today, but in the next five years are expanding to increase their capacity by as much as 70 per cent. With global trade in freefall, indications of a long-term trend and plenty of spare West Coast port capacity, there certainly is no need whatsoever for Port Metro Vancouver to consider building a second container terminal at Roberts Bank.

In fact Port Metro Vancouver quietly reduced its container growth forecast. Until recently it was saying that container volumes would double in the next 10 to 15 years. Recently they changed that and now state volumes will almost double in the next 15 years. That is a significant reduction but, given the realities of world trade, it is still unrealistic. It is time Port Metro Vancouver conceded that Canada does not need T2 to satisfy its trading needs in the foreseeable future

Is Port Metro Vancouver Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Sustainable?

Submitted by: Admin

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As you are likely aware the Environmental Impact Statement for the Roberts Bank Container Terminal 2 (T2) project was released to the public in April. However, here we are 7 months later and there is still no opportunity to comment on its sufficiency and technical merit.

Therefore deciding that we have waited long enough we have now written and published a report entitled “Port Metro Vancouver’s Roberts Bank Container Terminal 2 Is Not Sustainable – It Must Never Be Built”.
Read the full report here:


The report reviews this project and finds it lacking in terms of its sustainability - being a balance between the economic, environmental and socio -community aspects. We will be filing this report with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency as soon as we are permitted to do so.

Conservation of important wildlife habitat is an international responsibility and Canada is falling short. Roberts Bank sits on the Pacific Flyway and is one of only six major stopping places where waterfowl and shorebirds pause to feed on their long journey between Central and South America and their Arctic breeding grounds. Loss of habitat and disturbance by port development on Roberts Bank is already having an impact on birds, waterfowl, fishes, whales and other wildlife. This second container terminal would be the tipping point. It cannot be allowed to proceed.

It is bad enough that the Port would consider a second container terminal in this highly significant environmental area, used by millions of shorebirds, by salmon, by whales and many other wildlife species. It is equally concerning that the business case for this container terminal is weak. It simply cannot be justified because there is plenty of spare current container port capacity as well as large expansions at existing container terminals coming on stream in the next five years that will increase container terminal capacity on the West Coast of Canada by about 70 percent. Not only that but the Port seems intent on poaching more US bound containers (which adds nothing to the Canadian economy) despite the fact that neighbouring US ports have lots of spare capacity - with Seattle/Tacoma ports planning to increase from 3.5 million containers to 6 million by 2020. In short the West Coast has enough container capacity for many years to come without building this hugely risky second container terminal.

There are some significant questions about this project:

  1. Why does the Port insist on building greenfield container capacity on environmentally sensitive land?
  1. Why is the Port putting Roberts Bank at risk by building a second container terminal on Roberts Bank, when:
  • The three existing container terminals in Vancouver – Deltaport, Centerm and Vanterm all have spare capacity.
  • All three Vancouver terminals have plans for expansion that will add even more capacity. Deltaport is already expanding, shortly to add 600,000 containers of capacity (Twenty foot Equivalent Units – TEUs). Centerm has plans in the short term to add between 600,000 and 800,000 TEUs of capacity. And Vanterm also has medium term plans to expand.
  • Prince Rupert’s Fairview container terminal is undergoing an expansion that will add an additional 500,000 to 750,000 TEUs. Plus there are further expansion plans being considered, by adding a third berth, which will bring additional capacity of up to 700,000 TEUs.
  • Taken together the Canadian West Coast container terminal expansions will bring online a further 2.4 to 2.9 million TEUs by 2020, without this Roberts Bank second container terminal. Adding this to the current spare capacity, there is more than sufficient container capacity to meet Canada’s trading needs for many years to come. Why therefore does the Port not recognize that a second container terminal is not needed now or in the foreseeable future and should not be built?
  1. Why does the Port not address the recommendations in the 2008 Federal Government Report (Strategic Advisors Report, Asia Pacific Gateway and Corridor Initiative Report and Recommendations), especially the key recommendation that “…policy makers develop container capacity in Prince Rupert before making investments in Vancouver” and further that: “…a systematic approach be taken to achieve an understanding of port capacity before a conclusion is reached that a particular port must necessarily be physically larger.”
  1. Why does the Port continue to handle more and more US containers (upwards of 750,000 TEUs for the year 2015), which adds little or nothing to the Canadian economy, when US west coast ports have the capacity to handle these US containers? Seattle/Tacoma container terminals, currently handling 3.4 million TEUs, plans to expand to 6 million TEUs by 2020 and want to take back the US container traffic that Port Metro Vancouver  has poached


These and many other questions remain unanswered.


Risks of replacing the George Massey Tunnel with a Bridge

Submitted by: Doug Massey

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George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project Review

By Douglas George Massey son of the late George Massey after whom the tunnel was named. August 24, 2015

Recognizing that the Provincial Government is determined to replace the George Massey Tunnel with a high level bridge in the Fraser River Delta, I would like to provide the public with a few facts that I researched from publications over the life span of the tunnel.

Why was a tunnel built instead of a bridge in the first place?

 Here is some background and answers:

A tunnel was chosen because of the geology of the lower Fraser River delta.

The lower Fraser River Delta comprised of Richmond, Sea Island, Delta, Queensborough, Pitt Meadows, South Surrey and Vancouver, started to form about 10,000 years ago, just after the Ice Age when the upper Fraser River Basin consisting of 234,000 km² (57,822,658 acres) or (90 square miles) was covered in ice. The sea was as far inland as Pitt Lake and extended 15-23 km (9-14 miles) westward into the Gulf of Georgia. When the ice melted off the upper Fraser basin, the materials of sand, gravel and clay flowed into the Gulf of Georgia at the rate of 3400 cm³/S (120,069 cubic feet per second) creating some 1000 km² (247,105 acres) of delta, with depth of anywhere from 500 m (1500 feet) to 1000 m (3000 feet), above bedrock.

Bogs and marshland were formed. The materials within them were rich in nutrients and energy, supporting the greatest salmon bearing river in the world and largest population of wintering wildfowl. Dikes were built to contain the materials, creating the most productive agricultural lands in Canada, doing  this took up about 80 % of the Fraser delta, leaving only 20% to support the ecosystem of the Lower Fraser River. According to a Sediment Management in Lower Fraser River document of March 30, 2010, the natural flow of sediments down the Fraser River must be maintained in order to support that ecosystem and any premature removal of these materials whether it is sand or gravel must be continuously monitored to insure the survival of that ecosystem.

The George Massey Tunnel was designed and built by Christiani &Nielson Corporation from Denmark, the same people who built the Maas tunnel in Rotterdam, Netherlands 1937-1942. The difference was that the Maas tunnel had a tube for bicycles and pedestrians whereas our tunnel did not, even though it was proposed in 1947.

George Massey Tunnel was completed in 1959 at a cost of $16,600,000 which is just over $35 million in today’s dollars. The George Massey tunnel was built on 600 meters (1969 ft.) of sediment (sand) on top of bedrock as there was insufficient footing for a high level bridge.

Building the Maas River Tunnel proved to be more attractive financially than a bridge because the cost of building a bridge high enough would be prohibitive in order to avoid hindering the passage of ships to and from the largest port in Europe, Rotterdam. Port Metro Vancouver is calling for a 65 meter (213 feet) high bridge instead of the design proposed of 57 meters (187 feet).

In 2006 seismic upgrading of the George Massey Tunnel was completed at a cost of $20 million dollars. It consisted of making the 6 tunnel sections into one steel reinforced tube, attached to the ventilating towers on either side of the Fraser River. This would insure that the tunnel would not collapse if the underlying layer of sand was to liquefy. The pumping and emergency power systems were upgraded as well. In addition in 2009 an early warning system called “Shake Alarm” was installed on the George Massey Tunnel capable of detecting earthquakes with seconds to minutes of warning time, designed to close the gates at either end of the tunnel so that no one can enter if a dangerous quake was inbound, and those already inside can exit as normal before any shaking or movement begins.

Further improvements costing another $17 million were scheduled for the George Massey Tunnel that would have improved the seismic protection around the approaches and the replacement of the ventilating equipment, but were cancelled when the government announced a new bridge crossing. A bridge that was to be 57 meters (187 feet) high, built on footings on top of 600 meters (1969 feet) of sand over bedrock, right near the present tunnel. One would have to ask how much safer this would be for a bridge, when studies showed that liquefaction would remove the sand from under the tunnel leaving it with no support despite being seismically upgraded.

The Alex Fraser Bridge is anchored on bedrock on one side of the Fraser River and supported on sand on the other side, leaving it also vulnerable to seismic liquefaction. In 1959 a Fraser Delta Geology: Hazard Assessment study by the provincial government stated that seismic upgrading was needed for all construction in the Fraser Delta, even the highways leading to our river crossings would be subject to seismic movement. To date there is no direct measurement of seismic vulnerability of the Fraser delta from strong motion recording.

The George Massey Tunnel was built below the Fraser River bottom and has at low water 33 feet (10m) over 1400 feet on either side of middle of channel and 42 feet (12.8 meters) over 700 feet over the middle of channel. At the time it was built it was deeper than all navigable river channels in the world.

Dredging of the Lower Fraser River to 11.5 meters with a minimum 2 hour window year round currently costs Port Metro Vancouver $15 million a year; they recoup only $10 million by selling the sand to cement makers and road builders. To deepen the Lower Fraser River to the 13.5 meters (44 feet) proposed by the Provincial Government was estimated as a onetime cost of $175 million, which does not include the increased costs to maintain this depth. The provincial government did not mention the cost of removing the George Massey Tunnel or the lowering of any existing utility crossings.  Nor was there any mention of the reinforcing of the dikes of Richmond and Delta.

In 2007, the provincial government (Pacific Gateway Strategy Action Plan) advocated the removal of the George Massey Tunnel and to deepen the Lower Fraser River channel to 13.5 meters (44 feet) so they can create a deep sea shipping channel and make the Lower Fraser River into a deep sea port facility right up to and beyond New Westminster. In order to recoup the costs of dredging to maintain the deeper channel, they proposed to reclaim marshland around the present islands in the Fraser and build more islands at the mouth of the Fraser for industrial purposes.  All this despite the fact that Port Metro Vancouver says that the George Massey Tunnel presently does not protrude above the Fraser River bed and the Steveston cut is more of a problem and the cost of removing the tunnel, lowering existing utilities and deepening the river would be extensive and potentially cost prohibitive.

In a report called “Sediment Management in Lower Fraser River on March 20, 2010” it stated “Sediment removal that is not properly planned and/or executed can have immediate and serious adverse effects on fish population” and there should be a long term management programme initiated before additional sediment is removed by gravel or sand dredging.            

The grade through the George Massey Tunnel is only 1:30 while the grade on the new bridge at 57 meters (187 feet) high is 5:0. The lower grade of a tunnel rather than a bridge would result in less fuel consumption for commuters. BC Hydro has recently announced that it is already seeking a new river crossing for the present transmission line that runs through the George Massey Tunnel and supplies power to Richmond, Delta and other parts of Greater Vancouver. This will result in greater expense to taxpayers.

The George Massey Tunnel built in 1959 has many years of life left regardless of what the Provincial Government wants us to believe. In 2006 the provincial government spent $20 million for seismic upgrades, and installed a seismic “shakeproof” early warning seismic system, and planned to spend another $20 million for further upgrades to the ventilation and seismic upgrading around the approaches. In comparison, the Maas tunnel that was built in 1937-42 using the similar construction materials and methods of construction will be spending millions of dollars on a large scale renovation that will start in 2017 and conclude in 2019 to meet modern tunnel standards.

One would think that if the Dutch are willing to spend millions to renovate their 75 year old tunnel that the additional upgrades proposed the George Massey Tunnel, being only 55 years old, could still be upgraded and last for many more useful years and retain and maintain a close tie with the business and residential core of Richmond.

In conclusion, my point is that it would seem that building another modern tunnel near the present one would be faster and safer to build. All parts could be built and purchased locally, have minimal disruption to the Fraser River and a greater resistance to seismic activity, than a high level bridge.

Further Richmond Council have stated that they would like to keep the tunnel and use it for another purpose, and they were opposed to any dredging to make the river deeper because of the ramifications it would have on the Fraser River’s ecosystem that supports the fish and wildfowl of the Fraser River, agricultural land and as well create the need for extensive dike reconstruction.

It is ironic that this and previous Richmond Councils were also the strongest supporters when my father George Massey was advocating a new crossing to the extent they installed a monument on their side of the tunnel recognizing George Massey’s achievement.

My reference sources are as follows:                     

1. Proposed Crossing of the Fraser River at Ladner, B.C. by Christiani & Nielsen Corporation, April 10, 1947.
2. Sustainable Dredging Program of the Lower Fraser River, Aug. 7, 2007.
3. Fraser River Dredging (Fraser Port Authority) Aug. 7, 2007#4. Fraser Delta Geology Hazard Assessment Nov. 1995
4. Sediment Management in Lower Fraser River, March 20, 2010
5. Sedimentary environments post glacial history of Fraser Delta, March 18, 1983
6. Journal of Commerce Sept 7, 2009 article British Columbia’s Massey Tunnel was a cutting-edge endeavor.
7. Vancouver Sun article May 22, 2025 Port Metro wants Massey bridge higher to allow biggest LNG tankers: documents.
8. Article T&T North America march 2006: Seismic upgrade for Massey Tunnel
9. Delta Geology: Hazard Assessment November 1995 in the BC Professional Engineer.
10. Article George Massey Tunnel by Buckland & Taylor February 2015.
11. Letter from Port Metro Vancouver July 2015.
12. Article on Shakealarm June 2015 from Wikipedia.
13. Articles Maas tunnel; Rotterdam Wikipedia March 10, 2011
14. Sedimentary environments and postglacial history of the Fraser Delta and the lower Fraser Valley, March 18, 1983.
15. Article by Kenaidan Contracting Ltd. Re: Seismic upgrade George Massey Tunnel.
16. Massey Tunnel Project article April 16, 2013 by Richmond Garden City Conservation.
17. Sediment Management in Lower Fraser River March 30, 2010.
18. Articles on construction, maintenance and replacement George Massey Tunnel June 9, 2015 WIKI 2- Wikipedia Republished.
19. Vancouver Port Authority, Roberts Bank Container Expansion Coastal Geomorphology Study-Appendix C November 2004.
20. Article Business Vancouver April 21, 2014. Plan for deeper dredging in Fraser River could have high environmental price.
21. Request for proposal Fraser River annual maintenance dredging, August 18, 2010
22. Article Richmond Review Aug. 13, 2015 Province keeps Richmond in dark


Ports Own Stats Fail to Prove Business Case

Submitted by: admin

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Port Metro Vancouver’s (PMV) Robin Silvester continues to use smoke and mirrors to try and justify that the environmental destruction of Roberts Bank is necessary to handle Canadian cargo, but the Port’s own statistics (to the extent that they are willing to share them) simply don’t add up.

The 2014 Overseas Shipping Consultants Market Study prepared for PMV showed that in 2008 (the year before the Financial Crisis), PMV handled 2.34 million TEU of Canadian cargo.  By Mr. Silvester’s own admission in the Aug 26 Delta Optimist article, US Rail volumes will account for 25% of PMV’s total throughput in 2015.  Based on July 2015 statistics, PMV will handle 3.06 million TEU in total this year, so the US Rail volumes (25%) will represent over 765,000 TEU, meaning PMV will be handling about 2.295 million TEU of Canadian traffic in 2015.  This is LESS than the 2.34 million TEU of Canadian cargo that PMV handled way back in 2008!

 TEUs (container volumes)











CDN Traffic










US Traffic






























Overseas Shipping Consultants 2014 Report – table 8.1
Robin Silvester – Delta Optimist Article Aug 26 2015
PMV 2015 Container Statistics – annualized for 2015

And yet, despite these hard statistics showing that there has been 0% growth in Canadian traffic through PMV between 2008 and 2015, Robin Silvester claims in the article that “the underlying Canadian growth is above the four per cent we're looking at”.

PMV appears to be trying to create the illusion of a business case, but it is not working. If you look at the facts the business case simply doesn’t exist. 

Against Port Expansion opposes the T2 project because of the massive environmental damage that will be inflicted on Roberts Bank, but our group is willing to go “toe to toe” with PMV and Robin Silvester to prove to the Canadian public that aside from the massive environmental damage that this project would cause, there is simply no economic need for this project for decades to come, if ever.

To read the Delta Optimist Article click here


Latest APE Newsletter

Submitted by: Admin

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We have just published our latest newsletter.

Included in the newsletter is further information on the progress of the Federal Enivonmental Assessment, a critique of Port Metro Vancouver's Enivonmental Impact Statement for Roberts Bank Terminal 2 and further information on where T2 container volumes might come from were this new terminal ever to be built.

 Read it here.


T2 not needed for Canadian Container Traffic

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It is becoming increasinlgy evident that the expansion of Port Metro Vancouver's container business is mostly coming from the movement of US containers - both inbound and out bound. Without this US traffic Port Metro Vancouver (PMV) simply cannot justify builiding a second container terminal on Roberts Bank.

A recent letter in the Delta Optimist highlighted this.

As the letter points out handling US containers does nothing for the Canadian economy. In delving deeper into this topic what we find is that in 2015 West Coast Canadian Ports will handle over one million US containers, with Port Metro Vancouver handling the majority of these US containers. Furthermore PMV's business case for building a second container terminal is partly justified on the handling of even more US containers than they are today. This finding is supported by a number of articles in industry journals.For example one recent article in "Canadian Shipper" states the following:

“According to a study of U.S. West Coast port volumes by UK-based firm Ocean Shipping Consultants, Vancouver has joined Prince Rupert as a major competitor to the Puget Sound ports of Tacoma and Seattle for U.S. imports. U.S. importers are rapidly moving more containers through Port Metro Vancouver and to Chicago and the upper Midwest, dealing another blow to the ports of Seattle and Tacoma.  The share of Vancouver’s containerised imports moving to the U.S. expanded from 7.5 per cent in 2008 to 22.9 per cent in 2013, according to Newark’s Journal of Commerce." 

PMV's handling of US containers hurts US ports, such as Seattle and Tacoma that would love to be handling this business. It does nothing for the Canadian economy.

What does all this tell us. If Port Metro Vancouver stuck to its mandate "To facilitate Canada’s trade objectives, ensuring goods are moved safely, while protecting the environment and considering local communities" and.focused its efforts on handling Canadian containers then there would be no need to build a second container terminal on Roberts Bank.

PMV T2 Biofilm Analysis Is Flawed

Submitted by: Adnin

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One of the many failures in Port Metro Vancouver’s Environmental Impact Statement for Roberts Bank Terminal 2 is its incomplete and heavily flawed analysis of the potential impacts on the unique biofilm that is present on Roberts Bank and is a critical food source for millions of migratory birds and shorebirds.

It appears from the work that Port Metro Vancouver (PMV) carried out in this area that they identified the outcome that they wanted to portray and then built a series of hypotheses to support that outcome. Thus the PMV research is nothing more than “decision based fact making”.

The many PMV failures in carrying out a robust assessment of the importance of the Roberts Bank biofilm are becoming all too clear. Notably a number of submissions to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) on the RBT2 environmental assessment identify and document a flawed and incomplete environmental assessment. Perhaps one of the more important submissions (June 15 2015) comes from Environment Canada ( who state 
" ... that recent work on Roberts Bank by international scientists has provided new information on the nature of the intertidal diatom community at the time of the spring breeding migration of Western Sandpipers. The global population of Western Sandpipers, a migratory bird, is dependent on the habitat found in the Roberts Bank area. This new information may better explain why these shorebirds (and likely other migratory bird species) concentrate at this site, as opposed to other sites in the Fraser River delta. Further, the occurrence, abundance and nutritional value of these diatoms may have broader implications across trophic levels in relation to ecosystem productivity of the Fraser River Estuary. This new information casts reasonable doubt on some of the Proponent’s key conclusions with respect to biofilm and migratory birds as presented in the EIS.".

Furthermore Environment Canada notes that “It is unclear how changes in coastal geomorphological processes relating to tidal currents and sedimentation rates over the upper intertidal of Roberts Bank will affect biofilm productivity including in relation to the recently identified diatom".

Not only that but in reviewing PMV’s Environmental Impact Statement they appear to have lumped diatoms into "marine" and "freshwater", which based on other research papers that are available seems to greatly oversimplify the complexities of the Roberts Bank system and is a further indication that their analysis is incomplete.

PMV is also ignoring the potential changes to Roberts Bank that may result from them building a huge man-made island including, habitat loss, direct impacts such as footprint scour, and channel formation; indirect impacts such as sediment distribution and sediment grain size. Many of these were identified by the Port’s own working groups but then brushed aside. One of their technical working groups, commenting on assessment of potential impacts on shorebird populations,  went as far as to state that it was not feasible to carry out such an assessment. What did PMV do with this information – they ignored it.

Several recent scientific papers that have recently been published all talk to the importance of the biofilm on Roberts Bank.

In one:  “Intertidal biofilm distribution underpins differential tide-following behaviour of two sandpiper species during northward migration” ( )    published in the “Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science Journal” – an international multidisciplinary journal, the research shows the critical importance of Roberts Bank in supporting internationally significant populations of migratory shorebirds and Western Sandpipers in particular.

Key points in the paper include:

  • Western sandpipers and dunlin follow ebbing tides while foraging on stopovers.
  • Tide following foraging behaviour is stronger for dunlin than western sandpipers.
  • Western sandpiper foraging distribution matched biofilm availability. (meaning that this is their preferred food despite other options being available)
  • Biofilm, an energy source for shorebirds, merits conservation consideration.

As the paper documents, shorebird species rely on habitats like Roberts Bank, yet these species are becoming increasingly threatened by industrial development, such as the massive Port Metro Vancouver Terminal 2 development.

In another: “Biofilm Consumption and Variable Diet Composition of Western Sandpipers (Calidris mauri) during Migratory Stopover” ( it notes that major estuarine stopover locations supporting biofilm are often strategic places for transport and other industrial developments (as of course is the case for Roberts Bank). The paper goes on to note that there are a number of important factors to be considered where biofilm is known to exist, because biofilm is such an important food source at key stopover and feeding sites. It is therefore critical to identify the impacts on these important feeding sites in terms of what further industrial development means and indeed whether it should even be allowed. 

What does all this tell us? PMV needs to start over with its analysis of biofilm on Roberts Bank; to engage renowned and independent international experts in the field; and to develop a well researched study that will help to determine whether there should be any further industrial development on Roberts Bank.

Unless and until this is carried out there is no point in convening an Environmental Assessment Panel for Roberts Bank Terminal 2.

Orcas swim right by T2 site

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This video was sent in by one of our supporters.


It shows a southern resdient killer whale from Jpod swimming with its baby.The Orcas regularly feed on and hunt spring salmon and chum salmon from spring to fall in the area where T2 would be. The new terminal will be another obstacle to their routine and the migration of salmon up the river. 

Of course the new proposed terminal will also destroy crab habitat, obstruct their feeding and migration patterns and take away some of the fishing grounds used by commercial fishermen due to further navigational closures.

Enjoy this while you can. If T2 goes ahead we may never see this again

U Vic Papers raise issues about PMV T2

Submitted by: Admin

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Two research papers recently prepared for both the Against Port Expansion Community Group and B.C. Nature, by the University of Victoria Environmental Law Centre, address two of the major environmental and wildlife issues with the Port Metro Vancouver Terminal 2 project: migratory birds and marine species..

 The first, dealing with migratory birds, is entitled “Bringing Roberts Bank Migratory Birds to the Forefront of Environmental Assessment”. Because migratory birds are an undeniable central feature of Roberts Bank and the Fraser River Estuary as a whole, this becomes one of the key issues when it comes to deciding whether T2 is likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects. The environmental value and health of Roberts Bank as a migratory bird habitat has already irrevocably shifted. In fact Environment Canada in 2005 stated that they:
“… are concerned that the chain of the Pacific Flyway could be broken for shorebirds at some point given the ongoing economic development in the Delta. This constitutes a major risk for Canada's environmental reputation and the economic and social benefits derived from wildlife.” PMV appear to be conveniently ignoring that statement. No comparable site on the flyway exists on the Pacific coast between Alaska and California. No other site in Canada supports such a diversity and number of birds in winter.

 If T2 were to go ahead there is indeed a possibility that the chain of the Pacific Flyway could be broken.

Read the paper here:

The second research paper is entitled “Questionable Treatment of Marine Shipping in the Environmental Assessment of the Terminal 2 Project”. This deals with the second major issue, being to what extent the expansion in marine shipping will add to the already significant impacts on marine species.

Over 100 marine species in the Salish Sea (Strait of Georgia, Gulf Islands, San Juan Islands, Puget Sound and Strait of Juan de Fuca) are listed as endangered, threatened, special concern or are candidates for listing by at least one of four jurisdictions (governments of Canada, BC, USA and Washington State). PMV would like us to believe that they will be able to ignore these impacts during the environmental assessment. That is not going to happen. Canada’s Minister of Fisheries and Oceans has categorically stated that any impacts on the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales will be assessed, including as a result of the increased number of container vessels that will be required to feed T2. As well, both First Nations and US tribes’ traditional rights and interests in coastal and marine areas stand to be significantly affected. The T2 project may also adversely affect and infringe on constitutional rights.

Read the paper here: Questionable_Treatment_of_Marine_Shipping_in_the_Environmental_Assessment_of_the_Terminal_2_Project.pdf

We will be presenting both these papers to the Review Panel when it convenes. In the meantime we are also using the papers to identify a number of shortcomings in the PMV Environmental Impact Statement.

T2 Would Impact Orcas Says Port Metro Vancouver

Submitted by: Admin

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According to the Executive Summary for the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 project (page 75) PMV says "Therefore the Project in combination with past projects and activities that have been carried out, and certain and reasonably foreseeable projects that will be carried out, would result in a continued significant cumulative effect to the Southern Resident Killer Whales" Despite this and the fact that T2 will bring 260 more vessels right through the critical Orca habitat PMV plans to go ahead anyway.

This topic was recently aired on CBC's Power and Politics. See the video


Scientists fear for the future of the Southern Resident Killer Whales - as documented in a Post Media news item in late 2014.

The Georgia Strait Alliance programs and intiatives are working  towards the protection and recovery of species at risk - both our southern resident killer whales as well as many other species at risk.   Please do support them in their work.

So PMV is planning to push ahead with T2, in effect saying that because the Orcas are already impacted it is OK for them to increase the vessel traffic right through their habitat and impact the Orcas even more. This even though Orcas are listed and protected as a species at risk under the federal Species at Risk Act.

That is irresponsible. Write to Port Metro Vancouver CEO Robin Silvester and tell him so. Also perhaps ask him why PMV declined to be interviewed on CBC and what thay are trying to hide. Email him at

APE Peep-In April 25 Photos and Video

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A large group of supporters showed up to the Second Annual Peep-In at Brunswick Point in Delta to celebrate the return of the Western Sandpipers and to send Port Metro Vancouver a very clear message - STOP PLANS TO DEVELOP CONTAINER TERMINAL 2 ON ROBERTS BANK


Watch the video

This is the new Against Port Expansion Poster


Growth in Container Business at Port Metro Vancouver Fails to Meet Projections

Submitted by: Susan Jones

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Port Metro Vancouver (PMV) is pushing for a 2nd massive container terminal in the Fraser River Estuary despite the fact that PMV container volumes are showing only very slow growth in recent years.

PMV claims container volumes will double over the next few years and nearly triple by 2030, reflecting an expected annual growth of 5% to 7% annually.  However, from 2007 to 2014, container growth averaged only 2.2 percent per year.  At this rate, it will take 32 years to double the current business and published information shows that PMV already has this capacity.

Whilst the large majority of containers moving through PMV are Canadian origin or destination, the important factor to note is where the recent growth is coming from. As the graph below demonstrates, most of this modest growth is due to USA containers being funnelled through the port with little economic value to Canada.  There has been a miniscule 0.7 percent annual growth in Canadian import/export containers through PMV since 2007, certainly nothing to justify the huge, intrusive Terminal 2 project in an incredibly important and sensitive environment.

Note: CAGR percentages below are each expressed as a percent contribution to the overall



In the last few years, Canadian international trade, particularly in western Canada, has settled into the current pattern, whereby we import much of our needs for manufactured goods from overseas, (in containers), and export our natural resources in bulk form.  Prior to 2007, there was a rapid increase in container traffic as the business was new and getting established.  This led to the false premise that such growth would continue indefinitely.   Port Metro Vancouver (PMV) is still using this premise to justify another giant container terminal.

However, the container business at Port Metro Vancouver (PMV) matured around 2007.  Canadian-destined TEU import volumes from here on in can only be expected to roughly match the general increase in Canadian GDP, which is typically about 2.0 - 2.5 percent per year.  This is a far cry from the 6% to 7% per year that PMV is using in its projections.

Port Metro Vancouver TEUs Showing US and Canadian Volumes



The majority of growth in Canadian container volumes is being handled at the Prince Rupert Port Authority (PPRA).  In 2014, container shipping through PPRA was up 15 percent from 2013, handling 640,000 TEUs with about half of these volumes for Canadian destinations, the rest to the USA.  In March, 2015, PPRA announced a $200 million expansion at the Fairview Container Terminal to increase capacity by 60 percent.  Prince Rupert has the advantage over PMV of being 2-3 sailing days closer to Asian markets.  PPRA also has the critical advantage of connecting Canada directly to the US Gulf Coast, on a less congested line (via the Canadian National Railway and its extensive connections in the US Midwest) thereby avoiding the punitive US Harbour Taxes on the West Coast and the high cost of union dock labor unrest.

The future for increased container shipments through the Prince Rupert Authority looks bright indeed, but not so for Port Metro Vancouver, which basically is facing a saturated market for containers in Canada, and no particular advantage with the US volumes which have grown to 15 percent of PMV’s container trade in the last 2 years.  In any case, port expansion to handle import/export containers for the Americans will do little for our economy, and tragically it will cause irreparable damage to our scarce and vital farmlands and the Fraser River delta.

Over-estimating projected growth and understating current capacity, Port Metro Vancouver plans to dredge the estuary and construct a 284-acre island for a 3-berth container terminal in the Fraser Estuary, all the while claiming no accountability to the environmental effects beyond the areas it manages.  This astonishing attitude contradicts the very purpose of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and Canada’s responsibility to cumulative effects, species at risk, migratory birds, and wild salmon. 

Federal, provincial and local governments continue to pour tax dollars ($8 billion and counting) into the Vancouver Asia-Pacific Gateway infrastructure to facilitate the container business which is only 18 percent of the port’s tonnage compared to 82 percent for Bulk and Break-bulk shipping.   Not only are the products exported in Bulk and Break-bulk vital to the Port, but, more importantly, they are the mainstays of the economy of Western Canada with products such as coal, grains, mining products, fertilizers and wood products.  These products truly do sustain thousands, nay millions, of highly paid jobs throughout Canada.

The Container business on the other hand, is basically an import business, bringing in mostly manufactured goods which sustain millions of jobs in the countries that send us those goods, and some jobs in our retail sector, mostly minimum wage unfortunately.   It’s nice to get these iPad’s, Mercedes cars, Panasonic TV’s, etc. but let us not confuse this with job creation in Canada.

Some Break-bulk products are now being shipped out in containers as exports from PMV, giving a misleading impression of the importance of container shipping for these vital Canadian products.   The use of containers is convenient as empty containers have to be shipped back to the countries of origin.  So filling them with Break-bulk products is a good way to do this, especially if the shipment rates for such ‘empty’ containers are near zero.  There is no business case for this export trade, except that containers must be recycled somehow, no matter what the cost.  This leads to a false impression of overall growth. 

Therefore the use of empty containers for exports may be desirable for getting rid of huge and unsightly piles of steel boxes, but it is not profitable to Canada, and should not be used to destroy the Fraser River Delta, the most important biological environment on the BC coast, from almost any perspective.

We may ask several pertinent questions:
1)      Why are the federal and provincial governments supporting a totally unnecessary terminal which will destroy globally-significant habitat?
2)      Why are billions in taxes being spent on the Vancouver Pacific Gateway Strategy to provide infrastructure to move and store containers thereby choking up Metro Vancouver ports, roads, railways and industrial lands?
3)      As time goes on and the PMV Canadian container business fails to grow as predicted by the proponents, will the new terminal then be used for other purposes such as fuels? (As happened a few years ago, with the failed grain terminal at Roberts Bank.   The first two container berths at Deltaport were built without any environmental assessment.  If the second container terminal is built, the environmental damage will have occurred and other options, such as fuel, could arise.)

*Note 1: Prior to 2008, the Fraser River Port Authority reportedly separately from the Vancouver Port Authority (VPA).  The current Vancouver Fraser Port Authority (commonly called Port Metro Vancouver) was created in January, 2008, through the amalgamation of the Vancouver Port Authority, the Fraser River Port Authority and the North Fraser Port Authority.



1. Container Traffic Forecast Study – Port Metro Vancouver, June, 2014
Ocean Shipping Consultants; pages 57, 59, 81, 82, 207, 208, 209 and 193 

2. Port Metro Vancouver Container Forecasts, July 2013: Ocean Shipping Consultants, pages 175 &178

3. Facts and Stats Port Metro Vancouver:  Container Stats Monthly 2008-2014, 2014 Statistics Overview

4. Pacific Gateway Strategy: (March 4, 2014 - Data provided to Bloomberg BNA by the B.C. Government 

5. Prince Rupert to expand port’s container cargo capacity: Fairview Terminal operator committed to $200 million project that will increase capacity 60%.

6. Journal of Commerce, February 12, 2015, Vancouver sees 4% TEU Growth in 2015 after record-setting 2014

 7, 2008 Port Metro Vancouver Economic Impact Study, January 12, 2009 by InterVISTAS, pages 9 & 69

8. Port Metro Vancouver: Port Growth & Development:  Land Use Plan Update, Background Paper, page 8

9. Transport Canada, March 2008: Pacific Coast Container Terminal Competitiveness Study TP 14837E Prepared for: Policy Integration and Research Branch, Strategic Policy Directorate Policy Group by Hanam Canada Corporation, Victoria, BC page 36

10. Global Containers Inc.  A publication by TSI in 2006/2007 announced that the new Third Berth would increase capacity to 2.1 million TEUs. (Slide Presentation: page 17)

11. Worley Parsons Canada, November, 2011: Projections of Vessel Calls and Movements at Deltaport and Westshore Terminals  - Deltaport Terminal Road and Rail Improvement Project (DTRRIP) pages 22, 24 and 41

12.  Deltaport Terminal, Road and Rail Improvement Project, page1

Port Metro Vancouver - Stop Ignoring the Science Surrounding Shorebird Feeding on Roberts Bank, According to a New Study

Submitted by: Admin

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The latest scientific paper on biofilm feeding by shorebirds on Roberts Bank, jointly-authored by a team from Simon Fraser University and Environment Canada, has just been released in the January 2015 edition of the “Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science Journal” – an international multidisciplinary journal.

This new and important research clearly demonstrates – once again – the critical importance of Roberts Bank in supporting internationally significant populations of migratory shorebirds and Western Sandpipers in particular.

Key points in the paper include:

  • Western sandpipers and dunlin follow ebbing tides while foraging on stopovers.
  • Tide following foraging behaviour is stronger for dunlin than western sandpipers.
  • Western sandpiper foraging distribution matched biofilm availability. (meaning that this is their preferred food despite other options being available)
  • Biofilm, an energy source for shorebirds, merits conservation consideration.

As the paper documents, shorebird species rely on habitats like Roberts Bank, yet these species are becoming increasingly threatened by industrial development. A prime example of this is Port Metro Vancouver’s plans to build a massive man-made island on Roberts Bank for a second container terminal.

Based on the study that lead to the publication of this research paper, it is clear that the intertidal biofilm that is present on Roberts Bank plays an important role in shorebird diets – the western sandpiper in particular. Daily averages of more than 100,000 sandpipers concentrate at Roberts Bank during the northward migration. The paper specifically recommends that environmental assessments for coastal development and conservation strategies for shorebirds need to explicitly consider the physical and biotic processes that produce and replenish biofilm. The conservation implications are clear. The environmental quality of biofilm rich stop-over sites must be maintained so that biofilm availability for shorebirds remains adequate. Therefore there has to be a major conservation priority to safeguard the Roberts Bank habitat, thus ensuring that biofilm availability. What does that involve - no more port development, no more land reclamation for industrial uses.

In related news the country of Panama has just announced new legislation which will protect a key area of wetlands in the Bay of Panama, home to migratory shorebirds including the western sandpiper. Under the new law, already in effect, construction is banned in a 210,000 acre stretch of the Bay of Panama.

If Panama can do it why cannot Canada?
Port Metro Vancouver – are you listening?

 If you wish to access the full research paper please follow this link:

Alternatively if you would like a copy then please email us at

Latest PMV Stats Show Terminal 2 Not Justified

Submitted by: Admin

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Port Metro Vancouver finally released its 2014 year end container statistics. No wonder they took so long – the actual containers handled (TEUs – Twenty Foot Equivalent Units) came in well below their latest forecast. As recently as June 2014 PMV had been projecting an annual increase of over 6 percent to almost 3 million TEUs. However 2014 actually ended with them handling just over 2.9 million TEUs, a one year shortfall of almost 90,000 TEUs. In fact as recently as 2011 they were forecasting they would handle almost 3.3 million TEUs in 2014. So even having reduced their forecasts they still fell short. Still that did not stop the Port spin machine kicking into high gear, claiming in the media that 2014 was a record year.

In fact PMV’s own recently-published figures show that there was zero growth in full container shipments in 2014. Even adding in the movement of empty containers, PMV only recorded a 3 percent annual growth over 2013 - and nobody makes money shipping empty containers. What the Port fails to mention is that their 2014 figures were bolstered by the handling of increased US container traffic, as a result of the labour disruptions at US West Coast ports. If it had not been for that bonus they might well have seen a year over year decline in container traffic.

In the last six years PMV has missed its forecast increase each and every year. The actual 6 year compound annual growth rate for total containers is running at 2.63 percent and for full containers at 2.82 percent. Many factors including a repatriation of manufacturing jobs to North America indicate that going forward all PMV can expect is a 4 percent annual growth – perhaps 5 percent at best.

This is supported by recent industry forecasts – including from one of the major shipping lines - suggesting that going forward an annual growth of between 4 and 5 percent is realistic. Despite that PMV has been claiming recently that they will record increased container volumes each and every year going forward of between 6 and 7 percent. How are they going to do that when the last six years show that their compound annual growth is less than 3 percent?

Meanwhile the Port of Prince Rupert has had healthy growth, recording a 15 percent year over year increase for 2014. Prince Rupert container port is in the midst of a phased expansion that will add significant container capacity, sufficient to satisfy Canada’s trading needs for many years to come.

 It is time that Port Metro Vancouver stopped the game playing and admitted that a second container terminal on Roberts Bank is not needed now or in the foreseeable future.

The YouTube clip from Citizens Against Port Expansion tells the story.

Video - The Year of Living Fearlessly

Submitted by: Admin

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January 18 2015

Watch this new video by Citizens Against Port Expansion

Cliff Caprani outlines what we are up against in the months ahead as we work to stop Port Metro Vancouver from building a second container terminal on a huge man-made island in Georgia Strait.

PMV Habitat Restoration a Failure

Submitted by: Admin

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Port Metro Vancouver (PMV) has had a habitat banking program for some years. The concept works like this -  they select an area that they decide they can “improve” and then carry out work on that location. The sole purpose of this program is for PMV to build up credits that it can use to offset damage that it does to the environment in other locations – such as if it were to get permission to build a second container terminal on Roberts Bank.

There is nothing wrong with the concept but there is plenty wrong with the way PMV executes. Recently there has been little or no oversight or control by government agencies, nor does PMV take account of community concerns. A good example was the log clearing that they carried out in Boundary Bay. For this project there was no community consultation, nor did they listen to experts on salt marsh ecology that said it was best to leave the logs where they were. Instead they moved in and destroyed an area that was a valuable food source for raptors and other birds of prey. By removing the logs they also killed off all the voles and other small critters that lived in and under the logs. This destroyed a valuable source of food for the winter of 2013 for the owls, and other birds of prey.

Also, as a result in 2014 it made the salt marsh much more accessible. People were able to tramp over the salt marsh, ride bikes and ATVs and do further damage to what became a fragile environment. Then in late 2014 the first major winter storm brought back the logs, seaweed and other debris, doing even more damage to what is now a fragile environment.

The pictures below tell the tale

Boundary Bay Log Debris 2015-01-15.jpg



Boundary Bay Log Debris Dec 21 2014.jpg

APE January Newsletter

Submitted by: Roger Emsley

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2015 is going to be a pivotal year in our fight to stop Port Metro Vancouver from building its Terminal 2 project on Roberts Bank. It is going to take a lot of effort to stop T2,

but we can do it!!

Please read our January Newsletter below which contains:

  • A review of the key evidence that we have assembled and what it will take to stop T2.
  • A summary of the stages of the upcoming Federal Panel Review, what to expect and how you can participate.
  • An update on PMV’s disastrous habitat banking project at Boundary Bay, where the recent winter storm brought back logs and debris.
  • A look at PMV’s public relations campaign and “spin” as they attempt to fend off criticism of T2.
  •  A heads-up on our plans for holding a second annual “Peep-In” in April – to celebrate the return of the Western Sandpipers as they migrate north
  • A look into the murky world of federal politics and recent changes to legislation that may help PMV get around provisions in the Species at Risk Act.



Roberts Bank Listed as an area in Danger

Submitted by: Roger Emsley

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A recent report by the conservation group Birdlife International lists Roberts Bank as one of four important bird areas in Canada in danger.

 " You've got intensification of agriculture happening, expanding urban development, expanding port development and infrastructure, recreational pressures, shipping pressures, you have all this happening together," said Andrew Couturier, who works with Bird Studies Canada, one of BirdLife International's partners.

 This is the very area where Port Metro Vancouver plans to build a second container terminal, with the potential to further damage an area that is noted as being one of the richest and most important ecosystems for migrant and wintering shorebirds in Canada.

 We cannot let this happen. Tell Port Metro Vancouver that it must not do any further damage to Roberts Bank.

 Read the full report on threats to Roberts Bank

Why Won’t PMV Discuss its Forecasts?

Submitted by: Roger Emsley

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Did you attend either one of Port Metro Vancouver’s recent small group sessions? If so you will recall that participants questioned the economics and justification for building a second container terminal (T2) on Roberts Bank, even though the meeting topic was environmental mitigation. Participants expressed concern regarding the accuracy of the 2014 Ocean Shipping Consultants container forecast and requested that additional information be made available regarding the justification and need for the Project, including a business case and container forecast information from alternate sources.

 If you thought for a moment that as a result Port Metro Vancouver (PMV) would set up a separate consultation session to discuss the economics and justification, think again. PMV is steadfastly refusing; therefore there will be no opportunity to discuss this before they produce their Environmental Impact Assessment.

 Why do you think this might be? Could it be because the justification for a second terminal is very weak? Could it perhaps be because they are underperforming against their latest forecast, which they have done with every recent forecast that has been produced? Could it be because a good part of their justification relies on moving more and more US containers, which adds no value to the Canadian economy? Or is it that they know T2 – which will be a semi automated terminal with fewer jobs - will need to attract business away from other Vancouver area container terminals: information that they do not want to put out there?

 What we do know is that:

1. Their most recent forecast has been significantly reduced (by 600,000 at the 2025 level), yet they will still underperform against that forecast in 2014.
2. China is experiencing a major downturn in their economy which maybe means a much slower growth in imports into Canada.
3. The US economy is growing and continuing to repatriate manufacturing from overseas countries, lessening the need for imports via container.
4. US ports are investing in new infrastructure and have strategies to ensure US containers are handled in the USA, lessening the leakage to West Coast Canadian ports.
5. Container imports are not likely to grow much faster than Canada's GDP growth - currently in the 2 - 3 percent range.
6. Existing terminals in Vancouver have plans to expand and Prince Rupert is already expanding.
7. PMV still maintains it will triple the containers it handles by 2030. That means they would need to expand by close to 7 percent each and every year out to 2030. Not going to happen.

 What this means is there is no business justification to build T2. PMV's container growth estimates are likely to top out in the 3-4 percent range for the foreseeable future. And at that level of growth Canada's west coast ports have sufficient capacity in operation now or planned to come online without ever needing to add a second container terminal at Roberts Bank.  

 If Port Metro Vancouver believes otherwise then they should agree to hold separate consultation sessions so that participants can better understand and ask questions dealing with the whole justification for T2.

Threats to the Fraser River and Estuary and Roberts Bank

Submitted by: Otto Langer

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November 21 2014

Social and environmental values for one of the most important ecosystems in North America– The Fraser River and Estuary – are under threat and Port Metro Vancouver is at the root of all of these threats. 

Four massive projects taken together threaten the Fraser River and its estuary in a worse way than at any time in recent history. Proposed projects include; a jet fuel offloading terminal for Vancouver Airport; an adjacent 80 million litre tank farm; a new coal export terminal that includes barging coal down river; and a massive second container terminal on Roberts Bank. 

The risks are twofold. The actual construction of these projects will destroy existing valuable ecosystems that support massive marine and bird life. And an accident – a fuel spill, a container vessel sinking – could wipe out entire species, of invertebrates, salmon, orcas, and migratory and shorebird populations. 

Couple all of these with the recent dismantling of environmental regulations and the emasculation of key agencies – Environment Canada and Department of Fisheries and Oceans – and the end result is that if Port Metro Vancouver gets the go ahead for all these projects, it will be to the detriment of communities and important ecosystems all along the Fraser and its estuary. 

This is not about nimbyism or anti-trade sentiments. There are alternatives. Suggestions for handling jet fuel deliveries to the airport in a more sustainable manner were discarded. Inland container terminals that would make existing ports more productive are discounted by Port Metro Vancouver. Port Metro Vancouver is in denial that maximizing port expansion at Prince Rupert to handle future growth in container traffic is a better option. 

For more detail on some of these threats read the October 15 2014 paper by Otto Langer – Fisheries Biologist and Aquatic Ecologist. Fraser_River_Values-Sandheads_to_Annacis_FINAL2_Nov_15__2014.pdf

Environmental Risks from Port Metro Vancouver’s Plan for a New Container Terminal on Roberts Bank (T2) – as Demonstrated in New Scientific Studies

Submitted by: Roger Emsley

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November 17 2014

Several new international studies have just been published in a special issue of the Journal of Sea Research, an international and multidisciplinary periodical on marine research. These studies, written by international experts in the field of scientific research, relate to biofilm ecology in tidal flats.

There are 17 articles in the special issue, presenting research from the "International Symposium on Trophic Significance of Microbial Biofilm in Tidal Flats", which took place in France in 2011. At last, the international scientific community is waking up to the critical importance of biofilms in the coastal environment. The special issue is the first comprehensive overview of scientific research related to microbial biofilm ecology on tidal flats. Articles include accounts of general biofilm spatio-temporal dynamics, physical and chemical aspects of biofilm export, the trophic role of biofilms in tidal flat ecosystem functioning, and the biofilm-mediated ecosystem services provided by tidal flat ecosystem to humans. The findings highlight both the technical complexity and major role that biofilms play in the functioning, productivity, health and biodiversity of nearshore ecosystems. In addition they speak to the dynamic nature and inherent fragility of biofilm. A major conclusion is that pluri-disciplinary studies linking physics, chemistry, ecology (from molecules to communities) and human activities in coastal zones are needed to achieve real understanding.

Regrettably none of these experts were invited to participate in the Port Metro Vancouver (PMV) Technical Advisory Groups studying the potential impact on Roberts Bank from building T2. As a result the studies that have been conducted on Roberts Bank are nowhere near the standards exhibited at the 2011 symposium and the understanding is severely lacking compared to their European counterparts. This therefore brings into question the overall worth of the work carried out by PMV thus far on biofilm.

What these new studies also show is that coastal ecosystems rank today among the most endangered ecosystems in the world due to human activities. Among wild populations, 48% of shorebird species are declining due to the degradation and loss of habitats anywhere along their flyway. A recent report by the World Wildlife Federation - the “Living Planet Report” - complements this view by suggesting that “… more than 10,000 representative populations of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish, has declined by 52 per cent since 1970. Put another way, in less than two human generations, population sizes of vertebrate species have dropped by half. These are the living forms that constitute the fabric of the ecosystems which sustain life on Earth – and the barometer of what we are doing to our own planet, our only home. We ignore their decline at our peril.”

One such ecosystem is Roberts Bank on the Fraser River Delta, recognized internationally as a critical stepping-stone for millions of shorebirds migrating along the Pacific Flyway. Roberts Bank supports rich biofilm pastures as well as associated crustacean, mollusc and other invertebrate resources that are the food for Sandpipers and numerous other migratory birds. Alarmingly Port Metro Vancouver’s new container terminal T2, on Roberts Bank, severely jeopardizes this internationally important ecosystem. In particular, the construction of T2 may fatally impact the biofilm. The widened port causeway for T2 would not only be built over and destroy a large area containing biofilm, but the T2 man-made island would likely change tidal flows and currents over Roberts Bank that sustain the remaining biofilm. Removing such an essential food source could doom the entire species of Western Sandpiper as well as other shorebird species.  

The risks to Roberts Bank from Port Metro Vancouver’s container terminal expansion are too severe. We simply cannot afford to risk the destruction of migratory and shorebird feeding grounds on Roberts Bank by development of a second container port.

As the World Wildlife Federation says: “By taking more from our ecosystems and natural processes than can be replenished, we are jeopardizing our very future. Nature conservation and sustainable development go hand-in-hand. They are not only about preserving biodiversity and wild places, but just as much about safeguarding the future of humanity – our well-being, economy, food security and social stability – indeed, our very survival.”

Let’s heed the warning – and say no to T2.

Shorebirds at Roberts Bank

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It does not matter what time of year, Roberts Bank is in constant use by many species of birds and waterfowl. September 15 2014 there were a thousand shorebirds, mostly Black Bellied Plover using the NW Corner Roberts Bank Causeway, along with over 500 waterfowl . They lined the edge of the salt marsh  right the way up the Western Causeway in an area that would be covered with  an expanded port causeway and rail tracks if T2 goes ahead. Stop Port Metro Vancouver from destroying critical shorebird habitat - SAY NO TO T2


The Myth of Port Metro Vancouver’s Shore Power

Submitted by: David Jones

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Have you seen the slick TV ads telling us how Port Metro Vancouver is providing shore power for cruise ships to cut down on pollution?

The Vancouver Sun ran an article on August 19 telling us that less than one third of the cruise ships are actually using it.

One cruise line then advised that it has shore power connectivity but the Port assigns them a berth where the connection is on the wrong side!

Locally one Delta Resident wrote in the Delta Optimist, suggesting that Port Metro Vancouver treats Deltans as second class citizens:

Pollution from ocean going vessels – both cruise ships as well as the many freighters docking in Vancouver area ports – are indeed a significant source of pollution. The pollution problem is actually much worse than Port Metro Vancouver would have you believe. Only a few of the cruise ships use shore power, and PMV does not even provide it at their other terminals, despite repeated requests to do so.  As usual they have many excuses.

In any case, by our estimate cruise ships represent only about 3% of the total ship-days in port, so if only 1/3 of the cruise ships, (and none of the other ships) are using shore power, it means about 99% of the ships tied up in the port are using their own diesel engines, likely burning dirty diesel fuel (Bunker C).

The extent of this problem can be gauged by looking closely at the statistics provided by Metro Vancouver on the sources of pollution in the Metro air shed, (emitters).Metro Vancouver says that on average, 10% of all air pollution is caused by ships.   This average is derived by including Carbon Dioxide (CO2) as one of the pollutants, but CO2 isn’t a health risk in the usual sense, and is nearly all contributed by other sources, e.g cars and industry, not ships.  In other words CO2 won’t give you cancer or emphysema. 

There is a huge amount of CO2 generated in the air shed, in tonnage terms compared to the other real pollutants.  It therefore skews the average to make ships look relatively benign, and thus we arrive at the 10% figure.   But if we take out CO2 from the average, the  percentage contribution of ships to the real pollution situation gets much worse:

  • The serious and major pollutants in the Metro Vancouver air shed include NOx, Diesel Particulate Matter and Sulphur Dioxide. 
  • Ships contribute now, respectively 14%, 38% and 79% of these key pollutants, obviously much more than the 10% figure widely quoted
  • These three pollutants are all serious health risks, right now.    They cause smog, which is bad enough, but they also lead to serious illnesses such as lung cancer, bronchitis, emphysema, cardiovascular diseases, you name it.    The list goes on and on….
  • Reading the medical literature on the health risks of these pollutants is a sobering experience and should be a wake up call to port inhabitants in any major port where these monstrous diesel engines are allowed to idle for days on end.
  • Bad as this is, the percentage contribution is only going to get worse in future, up to double that, due to various factors.
  • Most other segments of society are now closely regulated, i.e. forced to decrease air pollution all the time, (industry, cars, trucks for instance), but not Port Metro Vancouver, which is totally unregulated and continues to pollute our atmosphere. 
  • Port Metro Vancouver plans to bring in many more vessels, (all burning dirty diesel fuel while in our port), including:
    • Coal ships to Fraser Surrey Docks
    • Oil Tankers to Kinder Morgan
    • More container ships to Roberts Bank

Bottom line - we have a serious health risk in Metro Vancouver coming from ships, far more than we are being told.The only way to reduce this problem is to require – perhaps even regulate -that shore power must be implemented at all Port Metro Vancouver sites, not just the cruise ships, which are a minimal part of the problem anyway.

Tell Port Metro Vancouver to stop polluting our air shed. You can tell them here:



How Valid are Port Metro Vancouver Statistics?

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Is this Port Metro Vancouver pulling the wool over our eyes? Here is the thread:

The Delta Optimist has had a recent flurry of editorials and letters recently published and concerning Port Metro Vancouver’s proposed Roberts Bank Terminal 2. It started with an editorial about the concept of inland terminals as a way to spare farmland in Delta from industrial development:

This was then followed by a letter suggesting the Port start listening to community views:

There then came a response from PMV’s Vice President Peter Xotta :

This then prompted two more letters:

The first disputes the stats he puts out on container volumes and job creation numbers:

The second says T2 is not needed and challenges the Port's notion that container traffic will double in 10 to 15 years, suggesting that Prince Rupert is better placed to handle West Coast container expansion:

Finally recent comments by PMV CEO Robin Silvester about the number of jobs T2 will create (also mentioned by Mr Xotta although he uses numbers that are different than Mr.Silvester) prompted Cliff Caprani from Citizens Against Port Expansion to craft this short video.


It challenges Port Metro Vancouver to explain the conflicting, confusing and over inflated  job creation numbers that they are putting out.


MLA Speaks Out About "Rare Biolfilm" on Roberts Bank that is threatened by Development

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Speaking about International Migratory Bird Day in the BC Legislature on May 7 2014, MLA for Delta South, Vicki Huntington, highlighted the importance of Roberts Bank as a unique ecosystem. She reminded the House that on Roberts Bank "One of the world's greatest migrations takes place on our doorstep, a doorstep that is in danger of becoming a doormat". She went on to point out that a rare intertidal biofilm situated right on Roberts Bank sustains the world's population of Western Sandpipers.

She then went on to indicate that now competing interests, such as Port Metro Vancouver's proposed container terminal expansion on Roberts Bank, threaten to destroy this ecosystem. Suggesting to the Legislature that Delta South is without parallel in British Columbia in terms of its natural wonders, with Roberts Bank in particular being designated under the United Nations Ramsar Convention as wetlands of international significance, she said "Enough is Enough!" and  called on the legilsature to protect the vital ecosystem that is Roberts Bank .

View Statement by Vicki Huntington in the BC Legislature

No Business Case for T2

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No Business Case for a Second Container Terminal in the Fraser River Estuary

 Port Metro Vancouver (PMV) is moving forward with a Canadian Environmental Assessment for a second Container Shipping Terminal (T2) with three berths adjacent to Deltaport at Roberts Bank.  The $3 billion Terminal 2 will add three million TEUs (twenty-foot container equivalent units) of capacity.  To justify this massive project, the port is publicizing exaggerated forecasts claiming its container traffic will triple by 2030.  This translates into a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 6.3% per year.  It is an unrealistic forecast considering the fact that the last 5 years (2008 – 2013) have shown a CAGR of 2.54%. PMV_Growth_forecast_Chart_June_2014.jpg


PMV Container Growth Forecasts - Click Here For a Printable Copy

PMV has consistently understated capacity and overstated projected container volumes in order to push for container expansion at Robert Bank.  The Port is now repeating this misrepresentation to justify their Terminal 2 (T2) project.  PMV is ignoring the capacity and potential for expansion at Prince Rupert Port in spite of a Government Report (Strategic Advisor Report, Transport Canada, 2008) advising that expanded container capacity should be developed in Prince Rupert before investing in Vancouver.

Economically, it defies logic to spend about $3 billion ($1,000 per TEU of capacity created) for a new terminal to expand container capacity at Port Metro Vancouver when Prince Rupert estimates it will cost about $650 million to expand its capacity by one and a half million TEUs ($433 per TEU of capacity).

Considering that less than a third of PMV container throughput is destined for southern BC, 50% to 60% of B.C. container business can be handled by either Port Metro Vancouver or Prince Rupert Port.

More importantly, ports in Seattle, Tacoma and Los Angeles compete with B.C. ports for US container business. About 20% of PMV and 50% of Prince Rupert container business is bound to the US.  PMV will have to massively increase its share of rail volumes to the US market in order to fill up the proposed T2 project.  Recent rail congestion suggests that this will be extremely unlikely, and PMV has done no studies to suggest that the Canadian railways could handle this additional volume, particularly in conjunction with increased capacity in Prince Rupert and demands of grain, oil, and other domestic cargo movements. 

PMV is planning to spend about $400 million just for the approval stages of the new Terminal 2 (T2).  The Port then plans to enter into contracts that will expose PMV to annual contingent liabilities of well over one $100 million to guarantee payments to the company that will construct T2.  All of this is being done so that PMV can generate congestion on Canada’s roads and railways to increase the movement of containers to the US.

It makes no business sense to spend billions to dredge and fill globally-significant habitat in the Fraser River estuary when the combined container capacity of PMV and Prince Rupert Port can easily accommodate several decades of Canadian container trade.   Where is the accountability?

For a detailed analysis click here

Growing port doesn't appear to be answerable to anyone

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See the May 23 Delta Optimist Opinion Piece by Ian Robertson



Migrating shorebirds — and the goo they eat — is a sticky issue for Port Metro Vancouver

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Western Sandpiper Migration Under Threat from proposed Port Metro Vancouver Expansion on Roberts Bank

Port Metro Vancouver is in denial. They refuse to recognize the importance of Roberts Bank and its unique biofilm which is critical to the very survival of the Western Sandpiper species. Their staff are constantly trying to downplay the importance of the biofilm, suggesting that there are other food sources - Nonsense. They make comments such as “We are committed to ensuring that any potential impacts of the project to the environment generally, including shorebirds, are avoided or mitigated."  How exaclty do they think they can mitigate the destruction of the Western Sandpiper species?

Read the May 2 Vancouver Sun article and video by Margaret Munro National Science Writer Post Media News. Migrating Shorebirds - The Sticky Issue

Read also the newly released report on Western Sandpipers - High Risk of Environmental Degradation on Roberts Bank

See photo by Terry Carr of the spectacle of the Western Sandpiper migration



Western Sandpiper Migration Event – April 21, 2014

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APE - Against Port Expansion - hosts a Peep-In at Roberts Bank in Delta B.C.

APE held a very successful Peep-In on April 21 at Roberts Bank in Ladner (South Delta) to celebrate the unique spectacle of the Western Sandpiper Migration.

Close to one hundred people came out to see the Western Sandpipers. This major annual migration event at Roberts Bank is one of the most important in the whole of Canada. At its peak there are tens of thousands of birds in huge flocks in the air, swooping in to feed and slurping on the biofilm as they build up their strength before continuing on their journey. This has to be witnessed to understand its importance. This area has to be saved from any further industrial or port development – the entire species depends on it.

Roberts Bank is a critical stop on the Pacific Flyway. There are few such stopping places for the Western Sandpipers on their long journey from South America, where they have spent the winter, all the way north to Western Alaska. Yet this is where Port Metro Vancouver plans to build a second container terminal. If this port development were to go ahead it will likely damage this critical ecosystem and in particular the unique biofilm on Roberts Bank. It is this biofilm that Western Sandpipers rely on at Roberts Bank as a critical food source during their stopover in their migration north to the breeding grounds.

The Peep-In – which may well become an annual event – sent a clear message to Port Metro Vancouver: We will not allow you to destroy this valuable habitat.

The dependence of so many birds on the critical habitat on Roberts Bank underscores its importance. The mudflats and biofilm on Roberts Bank must be protected as a feeding and roosting site, securing it from disturbance and any further port development.

See Global News Report - Opponents of deltaport expansion meet in Ladner

See Georgia Straight Article -  Anne Murray - Sandpipers Threatened - Port Metro Vancouver

Port Metro Vancouver - Expansion Beyond T2?

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News March 7 2014

An article in the South Delta Leader suggests there is no way of knowing if Terminal 2 would be the final expansion on Roberts Bank - according to Cliff Stewart of Port Metro Vancouver. Does this mean Delta can expect an oil terminal as well, for example? How much more environmental damage are they planning for Roberts Bank?

In the same article Cliff Stewart is quoted as saying "If you go back and look at the environmental assessment of the Third Berth Project you will see T2 as it was understood at that time and you will see the effects of that assessment."

Trouble is the opposite is the case. The cumulative impact assessment of Deltaport Third Berth should have included T2. But Port Metro Vancouver successfully pulled it out of the assessment process, saying that the cumulative effects of T2 were unknown and speculative.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May takes port fight to Ottawa

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February 2014

Opponents of port expansion at Roberts Bank are pleased the issue is getting some national play.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May tabled a petition in the House of Commons last week calling on Parliament to stop further port expansion in the Fraser River estuary in Delta. She said the petition comes from more than 1,000 B.C. residents opposed to constructing a massive second container terminal at the mouth of the Fraser.

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Port Metro Vancouver cited for greenwashing in contentious habitat restoration works on Boundary Bay

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Port Metro Vancouver cited for ‘greenwashing’ in contentious habitat restoration works on Boundary Bay

South Delta residents are planning to rally at Boundary Bay Tuesday morning to protest the start of salt marsh restoration work by Port Metro Vancouver that includes the removal of logs to improve fish habitat.

Residents feel there is no need for the Boundary Bay shoreline to be restored, and are concerned that the port is conducting the work as part of a “habitat banking” program to improve certain areas and offset destruction associated with port development, which could include the planned federal Terminal 2 container expansion project at Roberts Bank.

“This is ‘greenwashing’, just to make them look good in the public eye,”

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Roberts Bank Terminal 2 back on the agenda

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Port Metro Vancouver has put Roberts Bank Terminal 2 back on the agenda. They have got to be stopped as soon as possible. A second container port out on Roberts Bank will severely damage or perhaps even destroy this ecosystem. Join us in voicing opposition as loud as you can.

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Newsletter August 2013

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Recently received information suggests that Port Metro Vancouver (PMV) will soon formally launch the Roberts Bank Container Terminal 2 (T2) project. Typically in the past PMV waits until a time when they think people will not notice – such as mid summer or over Christmas...

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Priorities shift for subsidies - Peace Arch News

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An open letter to provincial Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Shirley Bond...

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Vancouver port may be left waiting for its ship to come in

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Geography, some historians say, is destiny. If so, Vancouver as a West Coast port may be destined for some leaner times.

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Container Forecasts

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Latest Port Container Volumes and Forecasts show there is no need for Robert's Bank Terminal 2.

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Goodbye Delta as we know (and like) it? - Vancouver Province

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If longtime Richmond councillor and farmland advocate Harold Steves is correct, the municipality of Delta that we know today is as dead as a doornail.

Goodbye Delta as we know (and like) it?


Look to Richmond to see how rampant development hurts




If longtime Richmond councillor and farmland advocate Harold Steves is correct, the municipality of Delta that we know today is as dead as a doornail.

"Delta is on the verge of the very same dramatic changes that have occurred in Richmond," he warns.

Even if only half of what Steves predicts actually happens, the days of Delta being a rare example of reasonably balanced land use are numbered.

To many, Delta is seen as a mini version of Britain, where many people and a modern, thriving economy are supported -yet the wide-open spaces and food-producing farms are also preserved.

This is the delicate balance that Richmond lost through unchecked residential and industrial development that began in the late 1950s and roared through the next two decades like a Klondike gold rush.

In those days, Richmond never met a developer it didn't like.

However, the forces now at work in Delta are slightly different from those that created the gridlocked Richmond we see today.

It is port development at Deltaport and throughout much of the municipality that is pushing the big changes now approaching Delta.

Port Metro Vancouver, the federal agency that has power to override provincial, regional and local zoning as well as the Agricultural Land Reserve, is steadily expanding its influence south of the Fraser River in a quest for its Holy Grail -- expanded container trade with Asia that it believes will double in the next decade.

Others aren't so sure of that and cite offsetting factors such as widening of the Panama Canal and expansion of U.S. ports on the West Coast. Or they point to our own new port at Prince Rupert, which is closer to Asia than the Lower Mainland.

But even if that growth occurs, critics question why the port and our provincial government insist on paving over some of Canada's best farmland to make it happen by building the $1.1-billion South Fraser Perimeter Road that will link Deltaport to Hwy. 1 near Barnston Island.

Both the Fraser River and existing railways could be used to ship most Deltaport containers inland for continental distribution, Steves notes.

Steves says the real issue here involves far more than building a four-lane freeway for container trucks. It's really about converting huge amounts of farmland into industrial property to support the port.

"Already, the industrial-land developers are lining up along the SFPR for the kill," Steves warns. He says numbered companies linked to industrial developers are buying up farmland along the freeway, especially where it's close to the river near Burns Bog or on Barnston Island.

Steves also points to the port's recent purchase of the 92-hectare Gilmore Farm in Richmond, which it plans to use for future expansion. This farm, the SFPR and No. 8 Road in Richmond align with Boundary Road in Burnaby and could accommodate another bridge across the Fraser River.

Finally, as Steves suggests, because so much industrial land near the river is being converted to residential and commercial uses, the port and its land-hungry industrial partners are targeting the only low-cost land that's left -- the farms.

Premier Misinformed About Port Expansion

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As published in The Delta Optimist:

I'd like to thank the premier for taking the time to provide his thoughts and views about the Delta South riding. Sadly, his staff and certain cabinet ministers have misinformed him when it comes to container ports and port expansion. The facts are that once the third berth expansion at Deltaport is complete, B.C. will have sufficient port capacity for at least the next 12 to 15 years, without any further expansion at Lower Mainland ports.

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Container Traffic Slumping

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VANCOUVER — Canada's ports face challenging months ahead as a global slump in shipping and weakening economies cut into traffic coming in and out of cities such as Vancouver, Montreal and Halifax.

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Letter to Washington State Governer

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A Letter to Washington State Governer from Point Roberts Based Lifeforce Foundation

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Government Appointed Advisors Recommend Prince Rupert Before Vancouver

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On January 21, 2008, David Emerson (the then Minister for Gateway) released a Strategic Advisors Report on the Asia Pacific Gateway Initiative. Authored by three prominent business leaders who were appointed by Emerson, the report made a number of sensible recommendations concerning Canada’s west coast container ports. Amongst those recommendations: We recommend that policy makers develop container capacity in Prince Rupert before making any investments in Vancouver beyond what have been announced to date.

Port Metro Vancouver is trying to ignore this and is quietly proceeding with its plans for Terminal 2.

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Environment Canada Commentary on Third Berth Application

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See what comments and concerns Environment Canada had in 2005 when they reviewed the original Deltaport Third Berth environmental assessment application.

Click here for a reference list (by page number) to locate just some of the very critical concerns raised by Environment Canada.

Deltaport Adaptive Management Strategy Report

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Port Metro Vancouver are ignoring warning signs that the Deltaport Third Berth Project is already damaging the environment and the fragile ecosystem of Roberts Bank. The first annual Adaptive Management Strategy Report – produced by consultants paid by Port Metro Vancouver – admits that there are elevated nutrient levels in the inter causeway area. The same report also owns up to the fact that third berth construction caused the formation of new drainage channels. Both of these have the potential to result in significant impacts in the inter causeway area. Elevated nutrient levels can result in eutrophication – whereby an algal bloom, reduces dissolved oxygen in the water when dead plant material decomposes and can cause other organisms to die. Environment Canada in its 2005 review of the Deltaport Third Berth Project warned that If it does occur the state of eutrophication is predicted to result in such massive environmental change between the causeways that there would be public outrage as well as agency embarrassment on an international scale.

Read APE's Analysis of the report
Port Metro Vancouver's Adaptive Management Strategy Report

APE Update for April

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Read up on the upcoming events, summary of this month's news articles and more in this edition of the APE Update.

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APE Update

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A couple of quick things... Click on the following link.

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Press Release is from the Livable Region Coalition

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Gateway air quality promises running on empty. Feds call Gateway Program air quality studies inappropriate and misleading: Study of transit solutions required.

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APE Special Announcement

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APE organizers are pleased to announce that, as a result of a donation from one of our supporters, we've been able to appoint an Executive Director – something we had wanted to do but lacked the funds to provide for.

Roger Emsley has agreed to fill that role and has taken up the position as of August 1, 2007.

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Press release for information for and update on VPA's investigation

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Please read the press release for information for and update on VPA's investigation of improper ocean disposal related to the DP3 and BCTC transmission line:

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Highway Robbery?

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Two million profit in less than a year for SFPR Properties!

In 2005, land speculators earned $2 million profit in less than a year when the B.C. Government purchased their industrial properties for the South Fraser Perimeter Road. The same profits are not being paid to homeowners whose homes are being expropriated for the road in North Delta and Surrey.

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A.P.E. Update

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Just taking a moment to bring you up to speed on APE's activities before summer sets in and your time is taken up with beaches, barbeques, lakeside vacations and all that other fun stuff.

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The Tyee on the South Fraser Perimeter Road

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Rafe Mair has written a great article in The Tyee on the South Fraser Perimeter Road which he describes as a Monster road in Delta which runs over local rights. He slams the environmental assessment process as occurring after the decision was already made.

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A.P.E. members meet with four provincial cabinet ministers in Victoria

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A.P.E. members meet with four provincial cabinet ministers in Victoria to discuss concerns about expanding the Deltaport container facility.

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May 23 - Followup Letter to Gordon Campbell

STOP Gateway Rally

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Hundreds of people came out to the STOP Gateway Rally on March 31st to voice their opposition to the provincial government's Gateway Program.

Rally speakers included radio personality Rafe Mair, Delta-Richmond East MP John Cummins, Delta Councillor Vicki Huntington, Adriane Carr of the Green Party, and David Chudnovsky, NDP's Transportation Critic.

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Pacific Gateway Strategy Plan

Delta Mayor Lois Jackson presentation

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On March 13th, 2007, Delta Mayor Lois Jackson made the following presentation to the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications (TRAN).

About the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications

Connecting the Dots

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Connecting dots creates picture by Ian Robertson (Delta Optimist, September 2006)

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