Port of Vancouver’s Roberts Bank Terminal 2 should not be built


Sadly, I’m once again pushed to respond to an article in the Delta Optimist that quotes Robin Silvester, CEO of the Port of Vancouver (“Delta Expansion Necessary as Ever”).

It needs to be made clear that The Port has never yet met its growth projection forecasts.

The Port has had a plan for almost 20 years to build the “Gateway to the Pacific”. A big part of this plan is to add to the existing Delta port container terminal with a new Terminal 2, making “The Port of Vancouver's…. the world's most sustainable port”.

The article quotes Mr. Silvester; “the demand for goods shipped in containers continues to be projected to grow going forward.” So far, growth has only been in the ‘projections’, not reality. As a result, The Port has moved their projections onto longer range plans to compensate. The problem with this is that the business plan for the expansion fails. As a result, The Port has been incapable of finding an operator for the proposed T2 terminal in at least two attempts.

“[Terminal 2] has no business case and should not be built.”

The reason for this failure is that the project is too expensive for any operator to actually make any money operating the facility. In any private enterprise this project would be dead in the water. Financing would not be available and the plans would be canceled.

Not so for The Port. The Port is now asking the federal government to let them build the island without an operator in place. At the same time Mr. Silvester will have us believe that the taxpayer will not be paying a penny for this proposal. If this terminal cannot be profitable for an operator, we have to ask ourselves, will our taxes be subsidising The Port and the T2 terminal?

The article finishes with: ‘It’s a “critical generational project” the port authority states.’

When the world and Canada are considering green initiatives for the post COVID-19 period it is crucial that a project with 71 environmental mitigation issues cannot be considered a “critical generational project.” Mitigation is an environmental management practice that is no longer valid for a country that has proclaimed we are in an environmental crisis.

This terminal is little more than a vanity project meant to enhance Canada’s trading image. It has no business case and should not be built.

This Letter to Editor about Port of Vancouver’s Roberts Bank Terminal 2 should not be built by Peter van der Velden originally appeared in the Delta Optimist on September 22, 2020. 

Watch: Port of Vancouver’s costly errors for Canadian taxpayers and the environment