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Longshore union sides with environmental groups opposed to Delta terminal expansion


As the British Columbia government weights a decision on a proposed major port expansion in Delta, environmental groups, labour unions and some Indigenous activists are teaming up against the project.

According to the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, if approved, the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 project would increase container capacity by 30 per cent on Canada’s west coast.

Opponents say it will do irreparable harm to marine ecosystems, harming fish, whales and birds.

"I grew up here. You look across from us is the North Shore,” said Rueben George, a member of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation.

“When I was a kid, every creek, river and stream had salmon and trout running through it. Now, there's none."

The federal government approved the project in April, but it also needs a green light from the province. That’s why opponents are appealing directly to Premier David Eby and his cabinet.

"The devastating approval of the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 expansion project makes the fear many of us have of seeing the southern resident orcas and wild Pacific salmon go functionally extinct during our lifetimes so much more real,” said Lucero Gonzalez of the Georgia Strait Alliance.

The port authority did not make anyone available to CTV News for an interview, but it did provide a statement from Devan Fitch, who is the program director for the proposed terminal expansion.

“Our focus continues to be on advancing the project in a way that protects and enhances the environment, is reflective of Indigenous priorities, and considers the needs of local communities,” Fitch said.

The port says it will also create 86 hectares of new marine habitat in an effort to offset impacts to wildlife such as juvenile salmon and Dungeness crab.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union has also come out against the expansion over concerns automation means robots will replace people for many jobs at the proposed terminal.

"When one terminal goes automated, the rest follow suit,” said ILWU National President Rob Ashton.

“That means there's a possibility of 3,000 to 4,000 longshore workers in this province losing family-supporting jobs."

The port authority said the project would create thousands of construction jobs and would employ 1,500 people on site when complete.

The province did not make anyone available for an interview and chose instead to provide a statement.

“A provincial decision has not yet been made. The statutory decision-makers for this decision are the minister of environment and climate change strategy and minister of transportation and infrastructure,” the statement said. “In making their decision, provincial ministers will consider the potential environmental, social, economic, health and heritage effects of the project on matters within provincial responsibility, as assessed by the review panel, as well as input from First Nations and the public.”

It’s not clear when the province will announce a decision. Top Stories

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