June 14, 2023 press conference highlights government’s weak reasoning to sacrifice wildlife and ecosystems in the name of jobs and economy, based on false justifications and incomplete facts
VANCOUVER / UNCEDED xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh AND səlilwətaɬ TERRITORIES —
Labour, community, and environmental groups have come together in a united front against the
controversial Roberts Bank Terminal 2 (RBT2) expansion project, holding a press conference
this morning at Crab Park. With the federal government’s recent approval and the decision now
resting with the B.C. government, these groups are determined to halt the project, citing its
detrimental impacts on wildlife, the environment and job security.
Today’s press conference was organized and endorsed by 13 organizations including the BC
General Employees’ Union, International Longshore and Warehouse Union, Georgia Strait
Alliance and the Wilderness Committee.
One major concern workers and unions raise is the threat of widespread automation in the
sector. Representatives of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union say that RBT2 will
reduce family-supporting jobs as existing terminals will be forced to automate to compete with
the fully automated RBT2. They emphasize the need for jobs that do not come at the expense
of the ecosystems that sustain us.
Speakers from environmental organizations at the press conference highlighted the project’s
impacts on migratory birds, southern resident killer whales (SRKW), and chinook salmon. These
species, already facing significant challenges, will be further endangered by the expansion. The
project’s environmental consequences exist despite the inclusion of 377 lacklustre mitigation
measures and are deemed unacceptable by the opposition groups. Moreover, concerns have
been raised about the consultation process.
The federal government’s approval of Roberts Bank Terminal 2 expansion on April 20 has
sparked controversy, as the project is projected to increase container shipments by 50 per cent
and further degrade the fragile Fraser River Estuary — a biodiversity hotspot crucial for various
species’ survival. However, the decision now lies with the B.C. government, which must
authorize the project to proceed.
The concerns raised by the opposition groups in Canada and the U.S. encompass not only the
potential loss of jobs due to automation but also the sacrifice of ecosystems and wildlife for
profit maximization. The collective goal is to ensure that projects receiving approval align with
the principles of sustainability, justice, and equity, benefiting communities, workers, and the
environment. Unfortunately, the review process has been criticized for failing to adequately
assess the long-term negative impacts on jobs resulting from automation.
As the B.C. government deliberates on its decision, the united front of labour, community, and
environmental groups will continue to amplify each other’s voices and emphasize the need for a
thorough evaluation of the project’s impacts. The groups are calling on the provincial
government to withhold the certificate for RBT2 under the Environmental Assessment Act. With
communities and unions opposing the project and concerns over the consultation process, the
fate of Roberts Bank Terminal 2 expansion hangs in the balance.
Charlotte Dawe, Conservation and Policy Campaigner of the Wilderness Committee: “The government’s reasoning for approving the project is based on false justifications and incomplete facts. The transition to a just, equitable and sustainable economy that allows future generations to survive in tandem with nature must start now. And it starts with cancelling Roberts Bank Terminal 2.”
David Bradley, Regional Director of Birds Canada: “We urge the province not to approve Robert’s Bank Terminal 2. We don’t need another island harming wildlife in the middle of a Key Biodiversity Area.”
Lucero González, Biodiversity Campaigner, Georgia Strait Alliance: “It is time to stop RBT2, prevent thousands of job losses, and the extinction of southern resident orcas and wild Pacific salmon.“
Rob Ashton, President of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union: “We will not stand idly by while the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority and the federal government destroy thousands of family-supporting jobs! Just to build someone’s legacy project!”
Stephen Hazell, Consultant at Nature Canada: “The science is clear that the megaport is bad for migratory birds, whales and salmon. Now we know it is bad for workers too.”
Roger Emsley, Executive Director of Against Port Expansion Community Group: “Roberts Bank Terminal 2 will push The Fraser Estuary over its environmental tipping point — do not approve it.”
Eva Schulte, Executive Director of Friends of the San Juans: “Roberts Bank Terminal 2 would add 520 container ship transits each year, including ultra-large container vessels that carry millions of gallons of propulsion fuel. The project would increase accident and oil spill risk, threatening critically endangered southern resident killer whales and all species in the trans-boundary Salish Sea.”
Against Port Expansion web site: https://www.againstportexpansion.org/