Don Larson: CRAB Park could pay a heavy price if Port Metro Vancouver gets its way

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      By Don Larson

      CRAB Park at Portside, the only waterfront public green space in the Downtown Eastside, is under threat by a proposal from Port Metro Vancouver.

      It's fronting for DP World's chairman and CEO, Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem of Dubai, and the company is an international terminal operator and container shipper, using large freighters.

      CRAB Park was formed in 1987 through the five-year advocacy work of Crab-Water for Life Society.

      It's a small Downtown Eastside environmental group that has organized an annual free live music and food festival on Canada Day at CRAB Park for about 25 years.

      For decades on February 14, the society has held a small vigil at the memorial boulder for the missing and murdered women of the Downtown Eastside, saying prayers and laying some pink carnations in their memory. This memorial was placed by the society.

      The society is concerned about DP World's plan to expand the Centerm pier. Its stated proposal would see container shipping expand by two-thirds, and encroach further on the view from the park.

      Port Metro Vancouver wants to increase the footprint of Centerm's terminal in Burrard Inlet.

      Last May, there was a container chemical incident on this site that shut down most of the Downtown Eastside for the afternoon. There were people walking around with handkerchiefs on their faces complaining about the toxic fumes.

      Had this incident been more serious, it would have been impossible to evacuate residents and downtown office workers.

      CRAB Park has a world-class view of the central waterfront of Vancouver, the ocean, and the North Shore mountains. Much of this view will be lost if the Centerm proposal is approved.

      An expansion of Centerm will extend the terminal in front of CRAB Park.

      The proposed expansion would also have impacts on the circulation of tidal flows. This could harm the quality of water at CRAB Park beach.

      Currently, a few hearty individuals swim in the summer months, and some children wade in the water at the beach. The water is cold but clean.

      With restrictions or interference by an extended pier, water circulation would be affected and there could be a loss of water quality and rising coliform counts. There is also a storm sewer outfall at the western boundary of the park.

      The society worked hard for five years, including holding a 75-day occupation of Crown land in 1984, to create this jewel.

      Does Port Metro Vancouver care about the loss of environmental quality of CRAB Park at Portside?