Delta Council has asked that the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 project be assessed by a federal joint review panel, a more stringent process that would take two years to review the proposed container terminal instead of just one for a non-panel review.
At a November council meeting, Delta endorsed a staff report that called for council to reiterate its position – first taken more than a year ago – that the project should be reviewed by a panel, the most rigorous process available under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.
The proposed terminal expansion would be built in a wetland area that is a major stopover for migrating birds and part of the Fraser River ecosystem.
Delta has also written to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency to ask that the review consider the cumulative effect of Terminal 2 in the light of other development proposals for the region, including residential and commercial developments being pursued by the Tsawwassen First Nation.
"We want to ensure that all our bases our covered," Delta Mayor Lois Jackson said on Monday. "People may not agree with you, but least you have put it forward as something that was identified by staff … so that everybody knows what is on the table."
Roberts Bank Terminal 2 is a proposed three-berth container terminal in Delta that would provide 2.4-million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent unit containers) of capacity next to the existing Roberts Bank terminal, which has a capacity of 1.8 million TEUs.
The project, pursued by Port Metro Vancouver, is part of a bigger push to boost port capacity that includes the $1.3-billion South Fraser Perimeter Road, which is expected to open this month, and a new – as yet uncosted – bridge to replace the George Massey Tunnel.
Port Metro Vancouver filed a project description for Roberts Bank Terminal 2 with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency in September.
On Nov. 8, the CEAA announced it would conduct a federal environmental assessment of the project. Under CEAA rules, the federal environment minister can refer a project to a review panel within 60 days of the start of a review.
That's what Delta would like to occur.
In a Nov. 26 letter to federal Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq, Ms. Jackson said Delta has "consistently expressed its wish that any new port expansion should be subject to the most rigorous environmental process possible – namely, a review panel assessment."
Review panels – of the type that are weighing the Enbridge Northern Gateway project – are required to hold public hearings.
Port Metro Vancouver is in the early stages of development with Roberts Bank Terminal 2, which, pending regulatory and environmental approval, could be operating by the mid 2020s.
A public comment period on draft guidelines closes Dec. 8.