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Hefty port rail investment
Delta-based citizens group Against Port Expansion (APE) is not impressed with the province’s recently announced $50 million investment to improve the railway link to Deltaport, the first stage of a proposed $200 million port development.
“As far as APE is concerned this is all very ludicrous,” said group member Susan Jones. “I don’t understand why the provincial government is still pushing for further expansion at Deltaport, because the statistics show that there’s absolutely no need for this at all.”
Jones said Deltaport has more than enough capacity to meet demand and the port at Prince Rupert has the potential to handle any increased container traffic to B.C.
“That’s why it’s stupid to have more infrastructure here, because it’s already there at Prince Rupert and it’s not detrimental to the environment like it is here,” she said. “It’s bad business and it congests our area, brings in pollution, more trucks and none of this is necessary.”
The investment is part of Premier Christy Clark’s B.C. Jobs Plan, unveiled earlier this month, which aims to attract investment in B.C., open new markets for B.C. goods and services, and maintain and create jobs. Among other things, the plan includes a target to have eight new mines in operation in B.C. by 2015.
“This coast is Canada’s coast, and that is why I am announcing today that we will invest $50 million to improve the B.C.-owned rail corridor that connects Deltaport to Canada’s transportation network,” Clark said in an announcement in Vancouver Sept. 22. “With this contribution, the Port of Metro Vancouver can now move forward on a $200 million expansion to increase container capacity, enabling the creation of over 600 jobs at port operations and ensuring goods move efficiently.”
Potential job creation doesn’t sweeten the deal for Jones, who says very few of those jobs will be in Delta.
Meanwhile, Tsawwassen First Nation Chief Kim Baird said Deltaport is essential for B.C.’s position as the gateway to Asian markets and for Canada’s success as a trading nation.
“But it is equally important that national infrastructure, such as Deltaport, also benefit local communities through the creation of long-term jobs and economic activity,” Baird said.
The proposed Terminal 2 project, part of Port Metro Vancouver’s Container Capacity Improvement Program, would add another multi-berth container terminal at Roberts Bank. With an expected capacity of two million TEUs (twenty foot equivalent units) per year, the port authority anticipates the addition would meet growing import and export demand in the Pacific Gateway. The expansion project is currently in the consultation phase.
“Port Metro Vancouver is the cornerstone of Canada’s Pacific Gateway,” said Robin Silvester, president and CEO, Port Metro Vancouver. “The Premier’s commitment to this vital infrastructure investment enables us to reliably support growing international trade in an efficient and sustainable way. With this critical funding commitment in place, we can now focus on meaningful consultation on the proposed project with municipalities, communities and the public.”
The entire Jobs Plan is available at a new government website, www.bcjobsplan.ca.
Other targets in the plan include 10 new non-treaty agreements with aboriginal groups by 2015; $5 million for border technology and information systems by April 2012; nine upgrades or expansions to currently operating B.C. mines; making B.C. one of the top two provinces in job growth and gross domestic product growth by 2015.