Against Port Expansion in the Fraser Estuary BC
APE (Against Port Expansion in the Fraser Estuary BC) is a group of concerned citizens who recognize that plans for container terminal expansion on Roberts Bank (RBT2) will see the loss of globally-significant wetlands and habitat (classified as a Globally Significant Important Bird and Biodiversity Area - IBA) for migratory birds, shorebirds, waterfowl, salmon, herring, crabs and orca whales; degradation of the quality of life for thousands of Lower Mainland residents; and the industrialization of prime agricultural land.
THE FEDERALLY-APPOINTED REVIEW PANEL PUBLISHED ITS REPORT MARCH 27 2020. ON AUGUST 24 THE FEDERAL ENVIRONMENT MINISTER PAUSED THE DECiSiON PROCESS AND ASKED THE PORT FOR MORE INFORMATION.
WE NEED YOUR HELP. NOW IS THE IDEAL TIME TO URGE THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO DENY APPROVAL OF ROBERTS BANK TERMINAL 2
There is a new petition we are asking you to sign:
This is new as of September 3 and is sponsored by Paul Manly MP for Nanaimo-Ladysmith.
The petition closes on December 2. It will then be placed before the House of Commons. It calls on the Government of Canada to
DENY APPROVAL FOR ROBERTS BANK TERMINAL 2.
See what others are doing to stop RBT2:
Natural Legacies versus Waste
Georgia Strait Alliance
Fraser River and Delta - 102 Species at Risk
The Globe and Mail contains an excellent article on the dire straits of the Fraser River and its Delta.
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:
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 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
RBT2 Opposition Growing
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 closes December 2.
If you have not yet signed it, please do so before the deadline.
Container Terminal 2 Fight Heating Up
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:
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
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:
Read the APE Press Release of Sept. 16 here: