On July 14th I wrote to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change to express my concerns about the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 expansion in Delta, BC.
Roberts Bank Terminal 2 is a proposed new three-berth marine container terminal, next to existing Deltaport and Westshore Terminals. An environmental assessment for this project is in progress and Minister Wilkinson is expected to make a decision about whether to approve Roberts Bank Terminal 2 this fall.
I am very concerned about the impacts this project would have on the environment and Indigenous rights. In March, an independent review panel submitted its final report detailing the numerous adverse effects that would result from the added impact of building another terminal. The report concluded that the project would threaten species, deteriorate important habitat, cause local air pollution, increase greenhouse gas emissions, and infringe upon Aboriginal and Treaty rights.
The Fraser River Delta is a very important habitat for a wide diversity of species. It has been designated as a United Nations internationally significant wetland, and is home to feeding grounds for millions of birds and some of the largest salmon runs in the world. Roberts Bank is part of the legally defined critical habitat for the endangered southern resident killer whale, too.
The project would cause adverse impacts on the use of lands and resources for traditional purposes by the Tsawwassen First Nation and Musqueam Indian Band. Tsawwassen First Nation reserve lands border on Roberts Bank and the expansion would further exacerbate risks to their community, associated with increased pollution and noise.
Last year, Canada declared a climate emergency. The federal government has also committed to advance reconciliation and the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on Indigineous Peoples. Giving this project the green light would not honour either of those commitments.
It is clear that the costs of this project outweigh the benefits. Roberts Bank Terminal 2 cannot be justified in the public interest.
July 14, 2020
The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Environment and Climate Change
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
Dear Minister Wilkinson,
I am writing to express my concerns about the proposed Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project in the Fraser Estuary.
The Review Panel Report from the project’s environmental assessment clearly demonstrates that the new terminal would cause serious adverse impacts in numerous areas. Many of these impacts cannot be adequately mitigated.
The project would infringe upon Aboriginal and Treaty rights. The Panel concluded that the project would cause significant adverse impacts that cannot be fully mitigated on the use of lands and resources for traditional purposes by the Tsawwassen First Nation and Musqueam Indian Band.
The project would also cause significant adverse effects on human and ecological health. Both the construction and continued operation of Roberts Bank Terminal 2 would cause unsafe exposure to respiratory irritants. The project would increase greenhouse gas emissions, and detrimentally impact many sensitive ecosystems and species, including the endangered southern resident killer whale, migratory birds, commercially important fish, and Chinook salmon.
Some of the largest salmon runs in the world migrate through Roberts Bank. The 2019 Pacific salmon season was disastrous, especially for Fraser River runs. Just this month, the government announced it is taking action to address the threats to struggling Fraser River Chinook, including habitat protection and restoration. Causing adverse significant impacts through the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project would be inconsistent with these stated priorities.
Moreover, a potential spill of heavy fuel, oil, or other contaminants would be devastating to the sensitive ecosystem, human health, and cultural heritage in the region. The proponent determined that a collision of ships associated with the project would be most likely to occur in the Southern Gulf Islands (Segment B), close to Plumper Sound where two vessels recently collided in March. The proponent assessed the risk of a vessel grounding or collision to be very low, but did not adequately consider human error and non-compliance.
Constituents in my riding of Nanaimo-Ladysmith have contacted me with similar concerns about this project. Local groups have also contacted me to express concerns about the environmental assessment process itself. These groups are concerned about potential inconsistencies between the Report’s key findings and recommendations, particularly when it comes to the cumulative effects of the project.
Your decision about this project will have serious implications in many respects – for Indigenous rights, health, commercial fisheries, and sensitive ecosystems. In the face of a climate and biodiversity crisis, in the spirit of reconciliation, and at a time when there is renewed focus on the importance of human health, it is my view that the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project cannot be justified in the public interest.
Thank you for your consideration.
Member of Parliament
The Honourable Bernadette Jordan, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
The Honourable Marc Garneau, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Transport