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Port expansion plans concern council
Delta council has forwarded a Port Metro Vancouver environmental report on the Deltaport third berth expansion, but not without voicing some concerns publicly.
PMV is undergoing an environmental assessment on their $200-million, three-year Deltaport Terminal Road and Rail Improvement Project, which includes road widening and a rail overpass on the Roberts Bank causeway. An additional 20 km of new rail track will also be added between 72nd Street and Deltaport Way.
The 51-page report includes information on the scope of the assessment, including public consultations, First Nations engagement, and biophysical analysis of vegetation and wildlife, water resources, marine habitat and environment, and air quality.
Mayor Lois Jackson said she was particularly concerned about the environmental report's mention that at least 8.33 hectares of land will be removed from the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) to complete the project.
"I continue to be concerned about the ALR approval for any lands that would be removed," said Mayor Lois Jackson. "It's one thing to have another terminal and another to encroach into the productive lands in Delta."
According to the report, compensation discussions will need to take place with farmers, the Agricultural Land Commission, the Delta Farmers Institute, and the Delta Irrigation Enhancement Program.
"We are a farming community and we do have a lot of acres in production here and heaven knows we don't want to lose one more acre," said Jackson in a followup interview.
Jackson said she wants to know whether PMV has overriding powers to expropriate lands from the ALR for the national good.
"As a local mayor however I have to ask the question, what if they're after 800 acres rather than eight—or whatever the number may be—the principle is still there in terms of their ability to take some of the best farmland we have in B.C. and convert it to additional trackage."
Jackson said a 2008 study commissioned by David Emerson, then federal Minister of Trade, recommended a system of inland terminals in places like Ashcroft to reduce the need for truck traffic and port congestion in Metro Vancouver.
Local Tsawwassen environmentalist Susan Jones argued that Ashcroft Terminals is a viable option in a November 2012 article published on thecanadian.org. She pointed out it is a crossover area for CP and CN railways and has the industrial lands and infrastructure to accommodate the traffic.
The report indicates PMV will need to work with Delta on suitable compensation for lost agricultural lands. Jackson said PMV has historically provided good compensation on other projects in terms of cash or amenities.
Mitigation plans are also included in the report from Environment Canada and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans which focus on minimizing noise levels during construction and reducing impacts to wildlife.
Coun. Robert Campbell expressed concern there was no mention in the report of the environmental impacts of Westshore Terminal's coal dust.
"We see there is a concern and with a marked impact of train traffic in Delta it's important to see what the effect is," he said.
Westshore currently uses a spray to keep coal wet enough that the dust won't blow away onto adjacent public lands. But Jackson said Monday the current coal dust mitigation measures aren't good enough.