Contact your MLA about the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 expansion

Send your letter to provincial ministers and relevant members of the Legislative Assembly.

The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority has been given federal approval to double the size of the shipping terminal in the heart of the Fraser River Estuary.

The 370 conditions included in the federal approval of the project are insufficient in many places, and the specific conditions that relate to the terminal footprint and underwater shipping noise are couched in language that avoids clear requirements to mitigate project effects on habitat loss, at-risk species, and biodiversity. Many of the conditions use words like “avoid,” “monitor,” “minimize,” “limit,” and “where feasible,” and often place discretion for these considerations with the Port.

Additionally, there are many other social and economic consequences from this project that will impact people, communities, and ecosystems of the Lower Mainland, Salish Sea, and Gulf Islands that have not been considered or assessed. These range from automation at the terminal that drives job loss, to the impacts of increased traffic (ship, rail, and vehicle) and the accompanying increased light, noise, air, and climate pollution. To date, the province appears to be ignoring its responsibility to ensure these effects are addressed in conditions.

Effects on salmon

For juvenile Chinook and other salmon, the project will reduce the functional size of the Fraser River Estuary, act as a barrier to salmon  migration, and increase light pollution and underwater noise. According to the federal review panel’s 2020 report, these adverse effects will be “high in magnitude, permanent in duration, and irreversible.” 

Further, a growing body of evidence indicates that habitat compensation measures are not an adequate replacement for ecological damage caused by development. In the case of Terminal 2, the proposed terminal reduces the size of the estuary and the types of habitat available to salmon and other species. This is a consequence of the massive terminal footprint and its extension from shore to subtidal waters in Georgia Strait; there is no evidence indicating these effects can be mitigated. 

Effects on endangered Southern Resident killer whales

Shipping noise is particularly harmful to Southern Resident killer whales because it masks the echolocation sounds that they use to locate their prey, and reduces the area over which whales can hear, and be heard. There is strong scientific evidence that these killer whales are not finding sufficient prey as it is. Technology to reduce underwater noise is not currently mandated for the shipping industry in Canada. The potential for Roberts Bank Terminal 2 to significantly increase noise the whales are exposed to is not adequately addressed in the federal conditions. 

A letter published in the journal Science summarizes the repercussions that expanding the shipping terminal will have on killer whales, Chinook salmon, and the Fraser River estuary.

BC Provincial Assessment 

In order for the project to proceed, the BC Environmental Assessment Office must give their authorization. The EAO has an obligation to BC residents to rigorously assess whether the intended economic benefits outweigh the consequences for hundreds of species that rely on the Fraser River Estuary and the Salish Sea. Habitat loss, and the government decisions that drive it, are a significant factor in the decline of BC’s wild salmon and BC’s unfolding biodiversity crisis. 

The Summary Assessment report from the province states they are satisfied with the federal conditions on most environmental issues. Yet, the Provincial EAO Summary Assessment did not include any conditions relevant to Southern Resident killer whales.  There is no obligation to reduce noise levels from shipping, only monitor them with the hope that asking ships to slow down at certain times and places lowers the impact. 

It is equally so when it comes to salmon. The province states they are satisfied that federal conditions address the barrier that terminal expansion has on salmon migration, yet the only requirement to address this barrier is to assess whether openings in the causeway (allowing salmon through) are technically and economically feasible. They do not mandate that even a single opening be constructed.  

Importantly, there is no mitigating the effect from pouring another 270 acres of concrete into the middle of the Fraser River Estuary;  it is an effect devastating to hundreds of wildlife species that rely on the natural state of the river delta.

The provincial government has a choice. They either act in their role to protect the integrity of south coast ecosystems in BC and their importance to our culture and economy, or they continue to make, and support, decisions that further their decline.

Send your letter

Find your MLA’s email by inputting your postal code

Honourable David Eby, MLA, Premier of British Columbia
premier [at] gov [dot] bc [dot] ca

Honourable Nathan Cullen, Minister of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship
LWRS [dot] minister [at] gov [dot] bc [dot] ca

Honourable George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy
ENV [dot] Minister [at] gov [dot] bc [dot] ca

Honourable Rob Fleming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure
Minister [dot] MOTI [at] gov [dot] bc [dot] ca

MLA Ravi Kahlon, Delta North
ravi [dot] kahlon [dot] MLA [at] leg [dot] bc [dot] ca

MLA Ian Paton, Delta South
ian [dot] paton [dot] MLA [at] leg [dot] bc [dot] ca

MLA Henry Yao, Richmond South Centre
henry [dot] yao [dot] MLA [at] leg [dot] bc [dot] ca

MLA, Kelly Greene, Richmond-Steveston
kelly [dot] greene [dot] MLA [at] leg [dot] bc [dot] ca

MLA, Trevor Halford, Surrey-White Rock
trevor [dot] halford [dot] MLA [at] leg [dot] bc [dot] ca

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Coastal wolf with a salmon in its month.
Photo by Dene Rossouw.