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1. What is the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project?
The Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project is a proposed new three-berth marine terminal located approximately 5.5 kilometres offshore at Roberts Bank in Delta, B.C., on Canada’s west coast. The terminal will serve container ships bringing consumer goods from Asia and exporting natural resources from Canada.
More information about the project and its components can be found here.
2. Why is the terminal needed?
Demand for goods shipped in containers is growing. Forecasts indicate container traffic on Canada’s west coast will double from 3.5 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in 2014, to more than 7.0 million TEUs by 2030.
Existing container terminals on Canada’s west coast – in Vancouver and Prince Rupert – will reach capacity by the mid-2020s, and so the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority is proposing to build the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project to meet forecasted demand.
More information about the need for the project can be found here.
3. Why are you proposing this project at Roberts Bank?
Roberts Bank is an established trade corridor and a vital part of Canada’s trade with Asia. Roberts Bank has deep water necessary to accommodate large container ships, and is located close to major transportation corridors for the movement of trucks and trains. Substantial infrastructure investments have been made in the last decade in anticipation of increased trade through Roberts Bank, including the $1.2 billion South Fraser Perimeter Road and the $300 million Roberts Bank Rail Corridor Program.
Roberts Bank is also ideal because it allows the terminal to be built in deep water, thereby protecting the shoreline and marine habitat.
4. How much will the project cost? Who is paying for it?
The estimated cost of the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project is more than two billion dollars Canadian.
Canada Port Authorities are required to be self-funded and competitive. They earn revenues by leasing port lands and waters an through fees to use the port. The project will be funded by the port authority and private investment, not income tax dollars. The investment will be recouped by the proceeds of the long-term lease of the terminal operator and terminal user fees.
5. Is expanding existing container terminals an option to meet growing demand?
The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority has worked with terminal operators to increase capacity at existing terminals. The four existing terminals at the Port of Vancouver – Deltaport, Vanterm, Centerm and Fraser Surrey Docks – have undergone improvements in the past decade to maximize their capacity. Further improvements are planned at Deltaport and are being examined at Centerm.
Even with these improvements and planned expansion at the Fairview Container Terminal in Prince Rupert, Canada’s west coast will still need more capacity by the mid-2020s. The Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project would meet Canada’s trade demand.
6. Has the port authority looked at alternative ways of delivering capacity?
Canada will run out of West Coast marine container terminal capacity in just a few short years. A new terminal is needed because all other possible terminal expansions at other container terminals have been, or will soon be, completed. The Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project is the only project that is large enough to accommodate Canada’s trade demand and be ready when needed because it is the only project currently in the environmental assessment process.
The environmental assessment process for a new project takes over five years and can only begin after several years of preparation and environmental study. Any new project proposal would have to start the regulatory process from the beginning, which would take far too long to be complete in time to meet expected demand.
7. Why does the port authority want to add a new terminal operator?
The role of a port authority is to build and lease federal port lands to independent terminal operators, who provide service in competition with other terminals.
Competition is important to keep costs low for users and consumers. Currently, there are only two major container terminal operators on Canada’s west coast, and one of them holds a monopoly in the Port of Vancouver of over 70 per cent. Therefore, the port authority believes a third operator would be in the public interest to keep shipping costs low for port users and consumers.
8. What benefits would this project have?
The Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project would provide substantial benefits to Canada, British Columbia and Metro Vancouver by accommodating increased demand for trade, supporting economic growth, providing employment opportunities during project construction and terminal operation, and providing benefits to Indigenous groups and neighbouring communities.
During construction, the project would provide more than 12,700 person-years of employment over a five-and-a-half year construction period. Once operating, on-terminal and off-terminal activities would support more than 12,400 well-paying, full-time jobs on an ongoing basis.
The construction of the project would add $1.3 billion to the Canadian economy, and its operation would add $212 million each year.
More detail about the benefits of the project can be found here.
9. How many terminal operation jobs will there be?
Once operating, the terminal would support over 12,000 jobs, including about 1,500 new full-time workers required to work on the terminal, with approximately 1,000 workers directly related to terminal operations.
Much of the equipment on the terminal would benefit from technology, but workers would still be required to operate, service and repair machinery.
10. When would the project be built?
Subject to environmental approvals and permitting, market conditions and a final investment decision, construction of the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project could begin in 2022 and would take approximately five-and-a-half years to complete.
11. Who is reviewing the environmental effects of the project?
The Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project is undergoing a federal environmental assessment by an independent review panel, under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012, the most stringent such process in Canada. It is also undergoing a provincial environmental assessment under the British Columbia Environmental Assessment Act.
The independent panel of experts will be appointed by the federal minister of environment and climate change.
12. Who conducted the studies for the environmental assessment?
As the proponent of the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority was required to undertake studies to meet the requirements of the Environmental Impact Statement Guidelines issued by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency. The studies were carried out by professional scientists, and are summarized in the environmental impact statement submitted by the port authority to federal and provincial regulators in March 2015.
In total, more than 100 professional scientists contributed to the 77 studies that support the Environmental Impact Statement.
More information regarding studies undertaken, including final reports, can be found here.
13. What is the conclusion of the studies you have conducted?
The environmental impact statement documents four years of extensive scientific study and consultation with regulators, Indigenous groups, local government and the public to assess the potential environmental, economic, social, heritage and health effects of the terminal’s construction and operation.
The result of the comprehensive assessment indicates that the project is not expected to cause significant adverse environmental effects. The assessment will be reviewed by an independent panel of experts and will be open for public review and comment.
14. How can I participate in the environmental assessment process?
The environmental assessment process for the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project is being run by federal and provincial regulators and will include multiple opportunities for public comment.
For more information about the federal environmental assessment and how to participate, please visit the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency website.
For more information about the provincial environmental assessment process, please visit the British Columbia Environmental Assessment Office website.
15. How many ships will come to the Port of Vancouver as a result of the project?
Since the start of the environmental assessment, there have been developments in the container shipping industry, such as larger ship sizes and the formation of new shipping company alliances, which motivated us to commission a forecast of container ship traffic travelling through the Salish Sea and serving Pacific Northwest ports, with or without the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project.
The conclusion of that study was that the total number of container ships that serve the Port of Vancouver container terminals will be the same, whether or not the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project is built. What will change is the size of the ships, which will be slightly larger on average if the project proceeds, and the amount of cargo loaded and unloaded in Vancouver, which will increase by approximately 33 per cent.
16. Have you consulted with Indigenous groups?
The port authority has undertaken an engagement and consultation program with 46 Indigenous groups, which will continue throughout the federal review and permitting of the project and, should the project proceed, into construction and operation. Topics include environmental effects of the project, marine shipping associated with the project, proposed mitigation, follow-up program, and a legacy benefit fund for projects of importance to Indigenous groups. The port authority is also negotiating mutual benefit agreements with Indigenous groups.
Additionally, the federal government is conducting it’s own consultation with Indigenous groups relative to the project.