Federal review panel concludes Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project will have harmful environmental effects


VANCOUVER – A federal review panel concluded today the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project in the Fraser River Estuary will have significant adverse environmental effects on a number of species, First Nations and public health. 

“This report should signify the end for this harmful and shortsighted project by the Port of Vancouver.,” said Conservation and Policy Campaigner Charlotte Dawe. “We’re happy and encouraged the panel has heard our concerns and have agreed the project has significant risks to southern resident killer whales, chinook salmon and many others.” 

The report finds there would be significant adverse environmental effects to wetlands, barn owls, Dungeness crab, chinook salmon and southern resident killer whales. It also highlights many First Nation traditional territories that overlap with the project and outlines risks to current use and cultural heritage resources. The report further identifies that public health will be at risk during the project’s operation from exposure to nitrogen dioxide and other respiratory irritants. 

The area is an ecologically sensitive and productive coastal ecosystem. It's important for migratory birds, is a migration route for some of the largest salmon runs in the world and is critical habitat for endangered southern resident killer whales. 

The project, taking place in Roberts Bank, is a proposed new marine container terminal where large vessels will receive and ship container goods. The project would double the capacity for shipments. It proposes widening an existing causeway, expanding an existing tug basin and intensifying vessel traffic to and from the terminal. 

“We should be working on ways to reduce current disturbance levels in the Salish Sea, we shouldn’t even be considering increasing disturbances,” said Dawe. “Approving mega-projects like this is the exact reason we’re in a biodiversity crisis, this project must not go through.”

Wilderness Committee and other environmental organizations, represented by Ecojustice, participated in the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act environmental assessment, arguing the project will result in significant adverse environmental effects on salmon and southern resident killer whales. 

The Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada Jonathan Wilkinson must now determine if the environmental impacts are significant. If Wilkinson finds significant environmental effects, then the cabinet ministers will determine if those impacts are justified and will have the final decision on the project.

“There is no way the Port of Vancouver can successfully mitigate all of the environmental impacts of the project,” said Dawe. “It’s a colossal disaster of a project and the federal cabinet must choose wildlife, First Nations' rights and title and public health and reject this project.” 

This article by Charlotte Dawe originally appeared in the Wilderness Committee on March 30, 2020.

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