by Matthew Hoekstra – Richmond Review
posted Jan 20, 2015 at 10:00 AM — updated Jan 20, 2015 at 4:57 PM
Richmond council is backing a call for a wider assessment of environmental risks from port expansion at Roberts Bank, with one veteran councillor saying “it’s time to take a stand.”
Coun. Harold Steves said Monday that Port Metro Vancouver’s control of local lands is increasing through projects such as the jet fuel pipeline in Richmond, a coal terminal in Surrey and a liquefied natural gas plant expansion in Delta.
“None of this was intended,” he said at a council committee meeting. “Somewhere along the line we’ve got to get the message across that this has to stop—that they are not the elected representative of Delta, or Richmond or Surrey, and that local government has to have some say.”
Coun. Carol Day brought the port expansion file to the table, saying Richmond council needs to support their Delta counterparts “over the lack of a proper environmental review.”
“Port Metro Vancouver is seeking to limit the scope of the environmental review, and this is a serious threat to Delta and to all communities in B.C.,” she said.
The Roberts Bank Terminal 2 project is a three-berth container terminal designed to double capacity at Deltaport, which is already the largest container terminal in Canada.
The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency is conducting an environmental assessment of the project through an independent review panel, but Delta has raised the alarm over the study area.
In a letter to Richmond council, Delta Mayor Lois Jackson said Port Metro Vancouver wants to limit the study to land within its jurisdiction, meaning road, rail and marine traffic beyond the terminal’s footprint wouldn’t be assessed—despite traffic being “the No. 1 concern” for Delta.
“Clearly, a development of this magnitude will have significant impacts on local and regional road and rail networks, and there will be marine impacts beyond the terminal berths,” Jackson wrote. “Any environmental assessment that does not evaluate these transportation impacts would vastly underestimate the impacts of the project and undermine the credibility of the project review process.”
The port, meanwhile, says it has no “care and control” over marine and rail traffic outside its jurisdiction, according to recent correspondence. It does, however, acknowledge having “limited” care and control over road traffic, but for that it imposes conditions for truckers who access its lands.
Richmond Coun. Derek Dang said he believes the port doesn’t have the interests of local communities at heart.
Said Dang: “It just gives me the feeling that they’d rather further the interests of Ottawa rather than the interests of the little cities that are actually going to be directly affected.”