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LETTER: No need for Terminal 2
Before Terminal 2 is considered for Roberts Bank, the need for port expansion must be established and the least environmentally damaging alternatives must be considered.
Port Metro Vancouver (PMV) claims an increase of eight per cent in the number of TEUs (20-foot equivalent units) handled in 2012 over 2011. But from 2008 to 2012 the total increase was only nine per cent so an average of 2.25 per cent per year. Over the same four years, Prince Rupert Port increased by 210 per cent.
PMV’s Robin Silvester also claims 2012 was a record at 2.71M TEUs, but this is only 65 per cent of current capacity. Upgrades underway at PMV will more than double its capacity to 6.70M TEUs. Prince Rupert is set to quadruple its port capacity to 2M TEUs by 2015.
How much more port traffic is coming to West Coast ports? The widened Panama Canal is set to open in 2015. China and Russia tested an Arctic container route this summer through the Northwest Passage. International Drewry Consultants say these projects will mean “any new trade will probably pass the West Coast by. Volumes are unlikely to decline, but the days of strong growth on the Pacific Coast are behind us.” So it appears Terminal 2 on Roberts Bank is not needed.
An environmental review panel of proposed port expansion on Roberts Bank in 1979 concluded that the potential impacts on the Fraser River estuary were too great to recommend development. An even larger expansion now when for example, Environment Canada reported an 80% decline in spring shorebird numbers since the mid-1990s, is too great a risk to this vital, internationally significant ecosystem.
Further, PMV ship traffic passes through the Gulf Islands National Park and Orca Pass, the summer habitat of the endangered southern resident orcas (killer whales). The approach to Prince Rupert port is direct so if there is ever any need for west coast port expansion this should be done in Prince Rupert.