Roberts Bank Terminal 2 is a proposed new marine container terminal on Canada’s west coast that would help ensure Canada can deliver on its trade commitments and ambitions. The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority is leading the project, which has been undergoing a federal environmental review since 2013. In 2016, an independent review panel was appointed by the minister of environment and climate change to lead the assessment, under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012.
About the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority
The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority is the federal agency responsible for the stewardship of the Port of Vancouver, Canada’s largest port. Our mandate is to facilitate Canada’s trade objectives, ensuring goods are moved safely while protecting the environment and considering local communities. We work on behalf of all Canadians in the public interest.
Part of our role is to ensure the Port of Vancouver is ready to handle Canada’s future trade. This includes ensuring land is available and developed for trade, including terminals, roads and support services. We are the landlord for federal port lands, and do not operate terminals. We have identified that Canada’s trade in containers is growing, and that the West Coast will run out of marine container terminal space in just a few years. By building the land for Roberts Bank Terminal 2 and leasing it to a terminal operator, the port authority will help ensure our national trade objectives.
Overall importance of Roberts Bank Terminal 2 to Canada
The Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project is essential to meeting Canada’s trade ambitions with Asia.
- $1 in every $3 of Canada’s trade in goods outside of North America goes through the Port of Vancouver
- Historic data and independent forecasts show that demand for trade of goods shipped in containers is growing
- The west coast of Canada will run out of room to manage growing Canadian trade with Asia as early as the mid-2020s
- The Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project is the best option to meet growing demand for goods shipped in containers
Economic benefits of the project
The Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project would support economic growth for all Canadians and create thousands of well-paying jobs.
- The construction of the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project would create over 12,000 jobs
- Its operation would support over 12,000 jobs, including 1,500 jobs directly related to terminal operations
- The terminal, once operating, would add about $200 million in government taxes, and $1.2 billion in GDP annually
How the environment will be protected
The port authority has a federal mandate to protect the environment. The Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project is not expected to cause significant adverse environmental effects.
- The terminal is located in deep water, far from sensitive habitat closer to shore
- More than 77 studies by more than 100 independent professional scientists were undertaken over four years
- The science is being reviewed by a federally-appointed, independent panel of experts who will incorporate feedback from public and regulators into their report
- The results of the studies demonstrate that any environmental effects can be avoided, mitigated or offset
Extensive and ongoing consultation part of project development
The port authority has a mandate to consider local communities in all development and operations. We have already completed extensive consultation and will conduct more in later stages of the project.
- Consultation and engagement are ongoing, with more than 440 meetings with regulators, Indigenous groups, local government, stakeholders and public to date
- The project design has been altered, and additional mitigation measures added in response to feedback
The Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project
A new container terminal for Canada
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 a wide variety of goods including items such as clothing, electronics, food, auto parts, manufacturing parts, furniture and household goods. The terminal will also serve overseas markets, shipping export containers loaded with a range of Canadian goods including pulp, lumber, crops such as lentils and legumes, grain, fruits, and specialty items like craft beer.
Learn more about the project here.
An accessible location that considers the environment
Roberts Bank is an established trade corridor and a vital part of Canada’s trade with Asia. Already home to Canada’s largest container terminal, Roberts Bank has deep water necessary to accommodate large container ships, and is located close to major transportation corridors. 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.
The location of the project is also ideal because it will be built in deep water, thereby reducing effects to the surrounding sensitive marine environment.
Meeting increased trade demand
Demand for goods shipped in containers is growing. Forecasts indicate container traffic on Canada’s west coast will double from 3.5 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in 2014, to more than 7.0 million TEUs by 2030.
The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority is proposing to build the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project to meet forecasted demand because existing container terminals on the West Coast—in Vancouver and Prince Rupert—will reach capacity by the mid-2020s.
More information about the need for the project can be found here.
A self-funded investment in the future
Canada Port Authorities are required to be self-funded and competitive. They earn revenues by leasing port lands and waters and through fees to use the port. There is no risk to tax payers because the project will be funded by the port authority and private investment, not tax dollars. The investment will be recouped by the proceeds of the long-term lease of the terminal operator and terminal user fees. The estimated cost of the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project is more than $2 billion.
A construction timeline that accommodates Canada's trade objectives
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.
Container ships in the future
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. This motivated the port authority 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.
Planning for the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project
Maximizing capacity across our terminals
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 underway 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.
Building in time to meet demand
Canada will run out of West Coast marine container terminal capacity in just a few short years. A new container terminal is needed to help Canada meet its trade ambitions with Asia. The environmental assessment process for a new project is lengthy and can only begin after several years of preparation and environmental study.
With Canada’s west coast projected to run out of container capacity by the mid- to late-2020’s, Roberts Bank Terminal 2 is the only option to deliver that capacity by the time it is needed.
Keeping costs low through greater competition
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. There are currently only two container terminal operators on Canada’s west coast. By building a new terminal, we can introduce a third container terminal operator, which we believe is necessary to create a healthy, competitive environment that is good for Canadians, especially for exporters.
Consulting and engaging with Indigenous groups
The port authority has undertaken a 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 its own consultation with Indigenous groups relative to the project.
The environmental assessment process
The proposed Roberts Bank Terminal 2 project has been undergoing a federal environmental review since 2013. In 2016, an independent review panel was appointed by the minister of environment and climate change to lead the assessment, under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012.
The review phase of the environmental assessment concluded in August 2019 with the close of the public record following a six-week public hearing. The independent review panel evaluated what they heard and the information received throughout the environmental assessment process and incorporated it into their final Federal Review Panel Report. This report was submitted to the minister of environment and climate change on March 27, 2020. The minister is now reviewing the recommendations and is expected to issue a decision regarding the approval of the project in late 2020.
A thorough, rigorous 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.
Benefits from the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project
Thousands of jobs, billions in wages
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 GDP to the Canadian economy, and its operation, including on-terminal and off-terminal activities, would add $1.2 billion GDP each year.
More detail about the benefits of the project can be found here.
Technological innovation and secure, well-paid jobs
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.