In the Good News, Bad News department, Delta Optimist’s Sandor Gyarmati reports on the face-saving exercise being undertaken by Deltaport’s current container terminal operator Global Containers (GCT). I have written about the Port of Vancouver’s continued push for this terminal despite the fact that it is the resting grounds of hundreds of thousands of western sandpipers migrating to spring Arctic breeding grounds. These birds feed solely on an algae that is only available on the Roberts Bank mudflats. That algae cannot be moved or replaced, meaning that this important bird migration on the Pacific Flyway would be extinct with port expansion.
It was Larry Pynn in The Province who pointed out that the written response from Environment and Climate Change Canada to the Canadian Environment Assessment Agency clearly outlined the catastrophic impact of a new terminal eradicating this sandpiper feeding area. Last year the Port of Vancouver said they wanted to work on these issues, but as a representative from B.C. Nature said “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.”
But back to the Terminal operator’s and the Port of Vancouver’s spin on ditching the terminal expansion, and no it is not to save the migratory birds.
In Global Containers Terminal’s latest submission to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, they stated that the Terminal 2 complex at Roberts Banks is “outmoded and no longer viable.”
“It is GCT’s view that the long-term sustainability of our gateway is only achievable through careful terminal design that reflects a modern, innovative, and a more sustainable approach to planning and constructing such an expansion.”
As Sandor Gyarmati points out the areas of concern in the terminal operator’s statement are a bit waffled. Some of the cargo is discretionary and could be shipped to any American port. There are “changing world patterns, increased protectionism, and shifts in marketing supply chains”. There is more and you can read the various submissions on the project here. You get the drift.
Adding onto the terminal operator’s submitted comments, the Port of Vancouver stated that they are not allowed to reclaim needed land inland from Deltaport because of a no go order from Fisheries and Oceans Canada. They also trotted out that one terminal operator would privately control most of the container terminal services market at this location. There is also the issue that more efficient larger ships will carry more cargo, meaning that there will be less ships needing berthing facilities.
At the end of the day the western sandpiper migration will not become extinct, and the remaining local ecology will be preserved.
Here is a YouTube video on the western sandpiper and the Terminal 2 expansion produced last fall by the APE group~Against Port Expansion in the Delta estuary. It is worth a watch.