Marko Dekovic: There's a better way to add needed container capacity at Roberts Bank


The port authority’s urgent calls for construction of additional capacity at Roberts Bank in Delta, to begin as soon as possible, are not valid.

In a recent op-ed, Roberts Bank Terminal 2 a key solution to challenges facing B.C. businesses, B.C. Chamber of Commerce CEO Val Litwin suggests the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 project proposed by the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority is the “only” way to deliver needed, additional capacity there.

In addition to not being true, it is also surprising and disappointing the B.C. Chamber of Commerce, “with a mandate to drive business advocacy,” is pushing the agenda of a federal government organization — the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority — when there is a better Deltaport expansion option that will deliver the additional capacity as it is needed.

This other expansion option, the Canadian Deltaport Project, is being put forward and will be funded by a Canadian private-sector company — Vancouver-based Global Container Terminals.

The Canadian Deltaport Project is Global Container Terminals’ smart, phased and environmentally conscious plan to provide needed, increased capacity at Roberts Bank in Delta by adding a fourth berth to the existing Deltaport terminal.

It is important to note that a January 2019 study by Black Quay Consulting indicates there is plenty of existing container capacity on Canada’s West Coast to meet demand until at least 2030. The port authority’s urgent calls for construction of additional capacity at Roberts Bank in Delta, to begin as soon as possible, are not valid.

There is plenty of time to evaluate all options and to be sure to get it right.

The Canadian Deltaport Project will deliver the needed capacity within a new footprint of 56 hectares, which would be built from the existing terminal back toward the shore. This is roughly one-third of the size of the 164 hectare RBT2 project that would be built out into the Pacific Ocean on important Indigenous crabbing grounds.

Both the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Environment and Climate Change Canada have expressed concerns about the RBT2 project.

The RBT2 project is also being challenged by local communities and environmental and Indigenous groups. Their concerns relate to migratory shorebirds, crab and fish habitat and impacts on biofilm and orca populations.

These groups are concerned they are not being heard and that the process is moving too quickly, without fair and proper analysis of alternative expansion options.

The RBT2 project will cost between $2.5 billion and $3 billion or even more, making it the most expensive port expansion in Canadian history. Inevitably, these high-expansion costs will be passed on to importers and exporters, which will likely make our gateway less competitive.

The Canadian Deltaport Project, proposed by GCT, is smart, phased and environmentally-conscious. It will deliver the increased terminal capacity as it is needed at the much lower cost of $1 billion to $1.6 billion and at no risk to Canadian taxpayers.

At Global Container Terminals, we are simply looking for a fair process that evaluates all options for effective terminal expansion at Roberts Bank.

Marko Dekovic is vice-president of public affairs at Global Container Terminals Inc.

This article by Marko Dekovic originally appeared in The Province on July 22, 2019.

Click here to read our detailed fact check response to this Op-Ed.