Price Tags Vancouver has been reporting on the proposal for the Port of Vancouver’s two billion dollar container terminal expansion planned for Roberts Bank in Delta. The CEO of Port Vancouver has also been suggesting that since the new megaships carrying thousands of passengers cannot get under the Lions Gate Bridge, this new facility could also accommodate those passengers disembarking for Vancouver.
One of the challenges with the Port’s proposed facility was the “hundreds of thousands” of western sandpipers migrating to spring Arctic breeding grounds who feed solely on an algae. This algae is only on the Roberts Bank mudflats.The algae cannot be moved or replaced, meaning that this bird migration would be extinct with port expansion.
As reported by Larry Pynn in The Province “A written response from Environment and Climate Change Canada to the Canadian Environment Assessment Agency (CEAA) describes the predicted impact of the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project on hundreds of thousands of sandpipers as “potentially high in magnitude, permanent, irreversible, and, continuous”…Concerns centre on the biofilm that the sandpipers consume on the tidal flats at Roberts Bank during their spring migration. The biofilm is a thin, sticky coating secreted predominantly by diatoms to prevent them from being swept away with the tides. Diatoms are at the bottom of a food chain and benefit a host of marine species such as oolichan, sand lance, salmon and crabs…If the container expansion altered the production of biofilm, it could have serious implications for the sandpipers to continue their northward migration.”
The port is putting a happy face on this setback, saying that they will want to work on the issues. But a representative from B.C. Nature and the local group Against Port Expansion had a more colourful response stating “ If it were a torpedo, I’d say the … port has been holed below the water line. We clearly have an environment at Roberts Bank that is fragile, that cannot withstand any more port development, and, finally, Environment Canada has come out with a definitive statement that should stop this project in its tracks.”