Protecting the environment during construction and beyond

A central part of our mandate as a port authority is to protect the environment and consider local communities while enabling Canada’s trade through the Port of Vancouver. Roberts Bank Terminal 2 is designed with the environment in mind, in a way that reflects First Nations priorities and knowledge, and community interests.

Through a collaborative and science-based approach, we will be avoiding, mitigating and offsetting potential environmental effects during construction and throughout operation.

One of the most important decisions in the design of the project was choosing to locate the new land for the marine terminal in deep, subtidal waters. This helps minimize environmental impacts, by constructing and operating the project away from the sensitive intertidal habitats that support biofilm, shorebirds, juvenile salmon, and other important habitats and species.

We are also legally bound to comply with the 370 federal and 139 provincial environmental conditions included with the project’s federal environmental assessment approval and B.C. environmental assessment certificate. These specify the ways we must avoid, mitigate and offset impacts—ranging from implementing environmental management plans, to a follow-up monitoring program for construction and operations. We also will be restoring and enhancing habitat as part of the offsetting plan.

We will consult and work with First Nations, government agencies and stakeholders in meeting the requirements of the federal and provincial conditions, and work collaboratively with our partners on regional environmental programs. Here are some of the ways we are protecting the environment:

Habitat enhancement

  • Fish and fish habitat offsetting projects form a significant part of our environmental work, and are being developed in collaboration and consultation with First Nations
  • Once built, regular monitoring of offsetting projects will ensure the new habitats are functioning as intended
  • We will restore over 94 hectares (equivalent to 620 hockey rinks) of habitat to offset the areas impacted by the project. These habitats will support key species of interest such as Chinook salmon and Dungeness crab.

Reducing impacts during construction

  • First Nations knowledge and input received during consultation have shaped our approach to construction and environmental management
  • A construction environmental management plan will ensure there are environmental protection standards and measures to mitigate potential adverse effects during construction
  • Construction activities that generate higher levels of underwater noise will not occur during the period when southern resident whales are most likely to be in the area
  • In-water construction work will be timed to occur during windows of least risk to marine animals, such as juvenile salmon and Dungeness crab

Reducing impacts during operation

  • Electrical shore power will be provided, so container vessels can plug into the grid, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving air quality
  • Ships berthing at Roberts Bank Terminal 2 will be required to participate in the ECHO Program to slow down and reduce underwater noise
  • When southern resident killer whales are nearby, vessels will delay unberthing and departure, and tugs will slow down to reduce southern resident killer whale exposure to underwater noise
  • Comprehensive spill and emergency response plans will be developed
  • A fish passage at the terminal will allow for the movement of migrating juvenile salmon

Field studies

  • Since 2011, we have conducted field studies at Roberts Bank and the surrounding areas
  • Field studies have focused on key species such as juvenile salmon, eulachon, Dungeness crab, biofilm, western sandpipers, great blue heron, barn owls, and diving birds. Learn more

Follow-up program

  • Our follow-up program verifies the accuracy of the project’s environmental assessment and the effectiveness of mitigation and offsetting measures
  • Monitoring programs will measure physical and biological aspects of the environment and monitor for effects to First Nations cultural heritage, in collaboration with First Nations and agencies
  • The results of follow-up program monitoring will be reviewed, and mitigation measures will be adjusted, if required

Prey abundance initiatives

  • We are contributing $30 million for prey abundance initiatives, in consultation with First Nations and federal agencies, to support the recovery of prey for southern resident killer whales

Environmental assessment and permitting

All the information from the federal environmental assessment is available on the public registry of the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada.

This includes more than 4,700 documents such as: technical and scientific studies; environmental reports; public comments; submissions by federal, provincial, and regional regulators; the port authority’s responses to information requests; and presentations and transcripts from the public hearing.

Experts from 18 federal and provincial departments participated in the process by providing advice and technical expertise throughout the project’s review. Federal government participants included Environment and Climate Change Canada, Parks Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Health Canada, Natural Resources Canada and Transport Canada.

For information and supporting documents related to the provincial environmental assessment process, visit the British Columbia Environmental Assessment Office’s public registry for the project.

Before construction can begin, the project needs additional permits such as the port authority’s Project and Environmental Review process and a Species at Risk Act-compliant Fisheries Act Authorization.

The Species at Risk Act-compliant Fisheries Act Authorization application, to be submitted to Fisheries and Oceans Canada, will further detail our plan to create more than 94 hectares of offsetting habitat in collaboration with First Nations. This permit application identifies the ways we are avoiding, mitigating, and offsetting the project’s potential effects to the marine environment and species.

Read the environmental assessment information on the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada.

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