Comment: Protecting salmon is part of container-terminal plan

A commentary by Vancouver Fraser Port Authority’s vice-president, environment, community and government affairs.

Re: “Give salmon a chance, don’t expand Port of Vancouver,” comment, Aug. 15.

The Raincoast Foundation expressed concerns about the challenges faced, today and in the future, by Fraser River salmon. At the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, we are committed to ensuring that everything we do — including the proposed Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project — is done in a way that minimizes and mitigates potential environmental effects wherever possible.

In fact, protecting Fraser River salmon is one of the reasons we decided to locate a new terminal in deep water, away from sensitive intertidal habitats that are home to species like juvenile salmon and crab. If the project is approved, we plan to build 18 hectares of eelgrass and intertidal marsh offsetting habitat at Roberts Bank. This will increase food supply and refuge for juvenile salmon as they continue their outward migration.

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We know that we can be successful in creating offsetting habitat, because we have been proactively enhancing local habitat for more than 20 years and have delivered successful habitat throughout the region. A recent example is the New Brighton Park Shoreline Habitat Restoration Project in Vancouver, which saw the return of juvenile salmon shortly after completion.

We will pursue additional offsetting in collaboration with Indigenous groups, including offsite opportunities, to achieve the greatest benefits and contribute to the future health and recovery of important West Coast species, such as chinook salmon.

All of our plans for offsetting and mitigation are based on multiple years of comprehensive, thorough environmental studies at Roberts Bank. This included undertaking an environmental program that resulted in over 77 studies, informed by over 100 professional scientists who completed over 35,000 hours of fieldwork.

The proposed Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project is going through an environmental assessment led by a federally appointed independent review panel under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act 2012.

Throughout the review process, we have provided information and updated studies, all of which are publicly available as part of the review panel’s transparent process.

If approved, and once the terminal is built, the port authority will lease the terminal to an independent operator who will be responsible for maintaining the high environmental standards we expect from all of our tenants who do business at the Port of Vancouver.

Here at the port authority, we take great pride not only in ensuring that Canadians experience economic prosperity through the trade we do with other countries, but also that we balance that goal with protecting the environment and considering local communities.

As a long-term steward of the Fraser River estuary, we will continue this work through and beyond the completion of the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project.

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