As the federal agency responsible for enabling trade through the Port of Vancouver, a central part of our mandate is to protect the environment and consider local communities. From day one, we have designed Roberts Bank Terminal 2 with the environment in mind, in a way that is reflective of Indigenous priorities and incorporates Indigenous knowledge, and we will continue to keep this a priority throughout project delivery.
Our approach has been shaped by extensive environmental studies, Indigenous knowledge and interests, and engagement with government, stakeholders, and the public. To develop our plan for the project, we have completed over 100 technical studies and reports, which represents contributions by hundreds of scientists, biologists, engineers, and Indigenous knowledge holders and over 59,000 hours of fieldwork.
We have also leveraged our deep experience building top-tier sustainable infrastructure across the Lower Mainland, including the Centerm Terminal Expansion Project and South Shore Access Project, which won a 2022 Envision Platinum Award for sustainability from the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure.
Designing the project in an environmentally responsible way
We are confident that the project can be delivered in an environmentally responsible way, for the benefit of all Canadians. As a part of the environmental assessment process, we put forward a comprehensive suite of measures to avoid, reduce and offset potential effects during construction and operation of the terminal. This would be done through the creation of additional habitat, implementing environmental management plans and a follow-up program for construction and operations, and working with Indigenous groups and key stakeholders on regional environmental programs.
Here are a few examples of our measures to protect the environment:
- In developing the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project, we researched many possible locations for the new terminal. We settled on the planned location because it would have the least impact on the environment and local communities. The new terminal will be located in deeper, subtidal waters, away from sensitive intertidal habitats that support biofilm, shorebirds, juvenile salmon, and other important marine species.
- We will create 86 hectares (which is approximately the size of 567 hockey rinks) of offsetting habitat, developed in collaboration with Indigenous groups, to support key species of interest such as Chinook salmon and Dungeness crab
- We are developing specific construction environmental management plans to reduce effects to the environment and the local community
- We will undertake follow-up monitoring to evaluate project-related effects and the success of offsetting habitats, and will make adjustments and improvements as necessary
- We will avoid noisy construction activities during the southern resident whale peak use period and adopt protective and conservative southern resident killer whale exclusion zones during construction
- We will sequence in-water construction works to occur during timing windows of least risk to juvenile salmon and Dungeness crab
- We will develop a project-specific fund to support the recovery of Chinook salmon, a key food source for southern resident killer whales. This new initiative will be shaped with the input and collaborative efforts of Indigenous groups, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and other stakeholders.
The federal project conditions outline how we will protect the environment, local wildlife and land-use activities of Indigenous Peoples.
Regional environmental initiatives
We continue to work collaboratively with industry partners on several regional programs and initiatives that are helping to protect our environment. While these programs are not considered part of our planned mitigation for the Roberts Bank Terminal 2, they play a vital role in maintaining the health of the local environment and Salish Sea by addressing potential cumulative effects of port and marine shipping activity.
Climate action at the Port of Vancouver
- EcoAction Program: the port authority’s EcoAction Program encourages shipping lines to make investments that reduce greenhouse gases, air contaminants, and underwater noise
- Northwest Port Clean Air Strategy: a first-of-its-kind strategy uniting Pacific Northwest ports on both sides of the border around a shared vision to phase out port-related emissions by 2050
- World Ports Climate Action Program member: a new initiative bringing together port authorities from around the world to work on projects that address the issues of global warming
Understanding the effects of marine shipping on whales
Since 2014, the port authority-led Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation (ECHO) Program has undertaken numerous collaborative research initiatives to better understand and manage the cumulative effects of shipping activities on whales in our region, in particular the southern resident killer whales. Initiatives include voluntary ship slowdowns in Haro Strait and Boundary Pass and the voluntary lateral displacement for tugs in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Enhancing fish habitat
As part of our approach to environmental stewardship and sustainability, the port authority has been proactively enhancing local habitat for more than 20 years. The Habitat Enhancement Program is a port authority initiative focused on creating, restoring, and enhancing fish and wildlife habitat. It is a proactive measure intended to provide a balance between a healthy environment and future development projects that may be required for port operations.
In addition, our award-winning Maplewood Marine Restoration Project was completed in 2021 in collaboration and consultation with Tsleil-Waututh Nation, and involved the restoration of roughly 4.5 hectares of habitat within the Maplewood basin by creating a tidal flat, an eelgrass bed, and a rock reef.
Rewarding environmental efforts
Each year, we recognize tenants and customers at Port of Vancouver for their voluntary efforts to conserve energy and reduce emissions. In 2023, we recognized seven cruise lines, 11 shipping lines and four coastal marine operators with Blue Circle Awards for their ongoing efforts to build sustainability into their operations.