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Green leader steps into Terminal 2 fight
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May tabled a petition in the House of Commons last Monday (Jan. 27) calling on parliament to stop the Terminal 2 expansion at Roberts Bank.
The petition includes signatures from more than 1,000 residents of Delta concerned about the environmental implications of the container terminal port.
“The Roberts Bank ecosystem could be endangered by this expansion and human built extensions into the harbour,” said May. “[Residents] are at this point, now that there is an environmental review, hoping that it will include proper and full public consultation.”
Last month, federal Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq announced the project will be referred to a review panel under stricter environmental regulations created in the 2012 under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA). That review won’t begin until Port Metro Vancouver submits its own environmental impact statement, which could take another year to complete.
The petition says the expansion poses “unacceptable threats to the Roberts Bank Ecosystem that cannot be mitigated” through an environmental review.
Critics of the project, such as the Delta group Against Port Expansion (APE), argue the construction of a second terminal will destroy critical habitat that is vital for millions of migratory and wintering birds as well as salmon and other wildlife.
Tsawwassen environmentalist and APE member Susan Jones said Roberts Bank supports waterfowl and shorebird migration routes from 20 countries and three continents.
“This largest estuary on the Pacific Coast of North America is recognized as a wetland of international significance supporting hundreds of species of fish, shellfish, migrating birds as well as resident Southern Killer Whales (orcas),” she said. “Dredging and filling to construct a 289-acre man-made island will effectively block migrating juvenile salmon and destroy nutrient-rich feeding areas.”
According to environmental studies conducted by Port Metro Vancouver, scientists have learned several shorebird populations, including the Western Sandpiper, stop to rest at Roberts Bank during migration and feed on a biofilm of algae lying on the intertidal mud flats. Although the birds also feed on crustaceans and microorganisms, studies have found the biofilm is an important part of the food chain.
The Roberts Bank Superport is the largest container terminal in Canada, with a current capacity of 1.8 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent unit containers). A plan to create a second terminal would nearly double that capacity in order to meet growth projections for container traffic through Canada’s Pacific Gateway.