A B.C. environmental assessment certificate has been issued to Vancouver Fraser Port Authority for the proposed Roberts Bank Terminal 2 in Delta, which follows federal approval earlier this year.
The decision to issue a provincial certificate was made by George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy and Rob Fleming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure after carefully considering the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office’s (EAO) report on the environmental assessment. The provincial certificate contains requirements for the project on matters that fall under provincial jurisdiction.
The B.C. ministers noted that with the project almost entirely on federal lands, within federal jurisdiction and approved by the federal government, a decision not to issue a B.C. certificate could not prohibit the project from going forward. Issuing the certificate with provincial requirements safeguards provincial interests.
The environmental assessment was conducted by a federal review panel on behalf of both levels of government. It involved extensive consultation with technical experts, federal and provincial agencies, local governments, 48 First Nations and the public. The federal government approved the project on April 20, 2023, imposing 370 requirements within its jurisdiction to address environmental effects.
The EAO also established an advisory provincial review team for the project, made up of provincial and local government staff with expertise on relevant provincial matters, who contributed to the provincial report.
In making their decision, the ministers considered:
- Cumulative effects in the Fraser River, a culturally important, ecologically productive, and sensitive area of coastal B.C., and the work ahead to advance reconciliation and support First Nations’ rights and stewardship aspirations in this area;
- Concerns from the public about the expansion, particularly in the context of existing cumulative effects on the Lower Fraser;
- Economic benefits to British Columbia.
The B.C. certificate has 16 legally enforceable conditions that the port authority must follow to avoid, minimize or offset the project’s potential adverse effects over its lifespan, including:
- A wetlands management plan to reduce negative impacts on wetlands and wetland functions;
- A land vegetation and wildlife management plan to reduce negative impacts on land-based plants and animals;
- A community feedback process for addressing questions and concerns from people in the region;
- Environmental-management plans for both construction and operations to reduce noise and vibration and plan for emergency response and spill prevention; and,
- A greenhouse-gas reduction plan for emissions, including net-zero by 2050.
While two parties are seeking judicial review of the federal decision to approve the project, the ministers determined not to delay issuing the provincial certificate to ensure the project was not advanced without provincial interests within provincial jurisdiction being addressed and effects being mitigated within their ability to do so through certificate conditions.
The EAO held a 30-day public comment period on its draft report in May and June 2023, as well as additional consultation with First Nations. Concerns in areas of provincial responsibility centred on adverse cumulative effects in the Fraser River estuary and Salish Sea. In their reasons for decision, ministers noted the Province’s commitment to co-ordinating with First Nations, federal and local governments on initiatives underway to study and address cumulative impacts.
Roberts Bank Terminal 2 is a proposed three-berth marine container terminal that would expand the existing container terminal currently located at Roberts Bank in Delta. It would also involve widening the existing causeway to accommodate additional rail infrastructure, adding road connections and utilities and expanding the existing tug-boat basin.
Roberts Bank Terminal 2 was assessed from the provincial perspective under the 2002 Environmental Assessment Act, for its potential environmental, economic, social, heritage and health effects.
Featured image: (Vancouver Fraser Port Authority)