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The year 2017 will be a telling one in Delta, with a development hat trick: the consideration of  Port Metro Vancouver’s Terminal 2 project which would eliminate a rare migratory feeding ground for the western sandpiper; the  Tsawwassen Mills mega mall’s sister “local serving” mall opening, which will dwarf and directly compete with local businesses in Ladner and Tsawwassen; and the Province doggedly commencing construction on their trophy project which will  reduce pollution from idling, the Massey Bridge.

The Roberts Bank Terminal 2 project will clearly have a deletory impact on the migration of the Western Sandpiper, taking out an irreplaceable environment which provides nutrient needed for this bird’s sustenance in migration. Impact studies of remediation work done by the Port in other locations show that the majority of these projects are failing. The Federal government is undertaking an evaluation of  federal environmental and regulatory processes which includes the environmental assessment  review of this Roberts Bank new terminal.

The Delta Optimist reports on the Corporation of Delta asking the Federal government for  “higher status when it comes to the environmental assessment of the proposed Terminal 2 project at Roberts Bank…The Delta report notes that by virtue of proximity, host municipalities experience the greatest impacts from large-scale projects. The environmental assessment process currently acknowledges First Nations are properly consulted and their concerns addressed, but does not accord any special status to non-indigenous host municipalities…The host municipality for a project should be accorded special status, equal or similar to that of First Nations, in recognition of the impacts that projects may have on local communities.”

“When it comes to projects on port-controlled lands, the report notes the role of port authorities as facilitators of trade as well as decision-makers on projects is problematic. The coal transfer facility at Fraser Surrey Docks was pointed out as one example. One of the other recommendations from Delta is that the Fraser River Estuary Management Program (FREMP), or an equivalent body, be reinstated.”

It was the FREMP group that in 2016 found that only one third of the  Port Metro Vancouver remediated habitats were functioning  as written in this article in Price Tags.  It is odd that the Roberts Bank expansion could get so far without directly addressing the impact of vital habitat loss to migratory birds, or the fail rate of the other Port remediated sites. Let’s hope the Corporation of Delta achieves its goal to be listened to at the Federal Environmental Assessment Review Board. A lot depends upon it.

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