The federal Deltaport Terminal 2 project is the classic elephant in the room: huge, ominous, and largely overlooked. Compared to the contentious $6-billion Enbridge pipeline across north-central B.C., what’s about to happen in Delta—and the environmental consequences of what’s about to happen—during the next decade has been seriously underreported. Here are the facts. The Terminal 2 expansion, along with its land-based supply chain, will:
- double the size of the Roberts Bank Superport by 2022
- create 4,500 jobs over the six-year course of construction
- quadruple the port’s container-handling capacity
- allow the doubling of Canadian trade with Asia
- require a $1.3-billion truck route linking Deltaport to North Surrey (under construction)
- require a $700-million train line following a similar route (now largely completed)
- require an intermodal/industrial park adjacent to the new port facility
- accelerate both the elimination of the George Massey Tunnel and the construction of a major replacement bridge over the Fraser River
- necessitate the spending of $500 million to study and mitigate environmental damage linked to Terminal 2.
What has not yet been calculated into the Terminal 2 equation is the cost to nature. More than five million birds—including 70,000 snow geese and millions of sandpipers—utilize the Fraser River estuary, probably the single most important migratory-bird habitat on North America’s west coast. With 80 percent of the delta’s marshes, foreshore eelgrass habitat, and natural riverbanks lost to diking, dredging, and development in the past century, the effect of further estuary degradation on Fraser salmon is unknown
With the loss of more than 500 hectares of Delta ALR land to development, adjacent agricultural land becomes more valuable—and more attractive to developers.