B.C. Projects, Including Roberts Bank Terminal 2, With Big Climate And Biodiversity Impacts


This article in The Narwhal by Matt Simmons discussions four B.C. projects with big climate and biodiversity impacts.

One of the projects is the Port of Vancouver’s Roberts Bank Terminal 2 (RBT2). Here is what the report says about RBT2:

Endangered orcas and threatened salmon are at risk from the proposed Vancouver port expansion 

A decision on a proposed expansion of the Port of Vancouver was expected this year, but citing the need for approval by both federal and provincial decision makers, the assessment review deadline was recently extended to Dec. 16, 2023. 

The expansion would require building an artificial island in the Fraser River estuary and any unavoidable impacts to sensitive habitat would have to be offset by repairing or restoring other impacted areas in the watershed. 

In February, a group of concerned scientists wrote a letter to federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault urging the government to reject the expansion.

“Even at a fraction of their former abundance, it is still the rearing and migration grounds for Canada’s largest runs of Pacific salmon,” they wrote.

The group honed in on probable impacts to Chinook salmon populations and endangered orcas

“Due to the importance of Fraser Chinook to fisheries in both British Columbia and the United States, and their importance as primary prey for southern residents [orcas], Terminal 2 has implications for the persistence of these two significant transboundary species.

Pointing out the incongruity of approving impacts to species and habitat, while also funding recovery efforts for threatened species, the group concluded, “if the conservation and recovery of Canada’s endangered and iconic wildlife species are a priority for the government of Canada (as previously stated), then the proposed Roberts Bank Terminal 2 project must be rejected.

In previous email correspondence with The Narwhal, a spokesperson for the port authority said the federal Crown corporation is confident “the project can be built in a responsible way that protects and enhances the environment, brings lasting benefits to Indigenous groups and local communities, creates tens of thousands of high-paying supply chain jobs and supports economic resiliency.”

It argued the expansion of Canada’s busiest port is necessary in a report prepared for the federal ministry in September 2021.

“Federal and provincial governments have invested significantly in road and rail infrastructure that support the Port of Vancouver’s Roberts Bank terminals as a part of Canada’s west coast supply chain, but marine side capacity is urgently needed to support future trade.”

Fortunately, there is a better solution for Canada’s West Coast container capacity. 

GCT's Deltaport Berth 4 (DP4) is a smart, incremental, market-driven, environmentally-conscious plan to add timely container terminal capacity at Roberts Bank in Delta, B.C., through the addition of a fourth berth to the existing GCT Deltaport terminal. 

DP4 will be fully funded by Canadian private investment, which ensures no risk for taxpayers or businesses conducting trade and frees up billions in public funds that could be better deployed elsewhere - like upgrading Canada’s Pacific Gateway infrastructure with projects that will make it and the supply chain more resilient and sustainable. 

With only a 4-year construction timeline, compared to the Vancouver Port Authority’s 10+ year timeline, both projects will be ready in the same early 2030s timeframe. 

The construction of DP4 will result in more than $2 billion of economic activity in B.C. and across Canada and contribute more than $1 billion to Canada's GDP. Once completed, DP4 will generate more than $1.6 billion of economic activity in B.C. and across Canada and contribute more than $1.2 billion to Canada's GDP. During construction, DP4 will create 10,000 jobs and once complete will support 6,900 jobs annually. Learn more at Betterdeltaport.ca.