Posts Tagged ‘conservation’

The Fraser Estuary is trending well

June 14, 2017

There’s a promising trend for the Fraser Estuary, the union of mighty river and Salish Sea that begot the Richmond islands, much of Delta and more.

A citizens group and Ecojustice, along with Surrey and New Westminster, recently took the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority to court. They are aiming to prevent the barging of immense amounts of thermal coal through the estuary. While we wait for a decision, we’re spared the hazards of dirty coal, and we can read an informative report here.

Another dire threat from the port is their proposed Roberts Bank Terminal 2, a new artificial island of fill in the mouth of the estuary. (Click image for larger version.)
A federal review panel for the Terminal 2 plan keeps asking tough questions—this month with a focus on marine life. I’m impressed.

The port has announced that it’s now less intent on dredging the Fraser ship channel deeper. That may be part of the port’s strategy to get Terminal 2 approved, but it’s also an opportunity to stop harm to the estuary.

(Note: If the port doesn’t have to include the environmental impact of dredging as a “cumulative effect” of projects in the estuary, it has a better chance of getting Terminal 2 approved. After that assessment by review panel, the port could consider deeper dredging again.)

We trust a new government will listen well and sift through the old one’s half-decade of Massey Replacement content to find what’s ideal for transportation, safety and the environment.

They could revive the pre-Christy plan with extra insights.

The “Expanding the Tunnel” graphic shows the essence of it, with the eco-excellent “Green Tube” providing two new lanes.

That and the four-lane “Legacy Tube” would comprise the expanded Massey Tunnel in the Highway 99 corridor.

However, it could be best to place the Green Tube upriver, further east, as a new tunnel.

In that case, it could connect with Richmond’s Nelson Road, which leads into Highway 91, with just a minimal effect on farmland.

Either way, the aim is to increase the transit capacity by two lanes. (The Green Tube may not be directly used for transit but enables it.)

At least to begin with, Rapid Buses are the likely mode, planned long ago.

The Green Tube is the urgent need. Done fast and well, it could initially divert traffic from the Legacy Tube to expedite the many overdue and near-due renovations. (Legacy lanes could close for the work, a pair at a time.)

After the external phase of the seismic retrofit, that would entail refurbishing of the Legacy Tube with a new ventilation system, installing of ceramic tile throughout, renewal of the in-tunnel transmission line, and other refinements.

Beyond the tunnel, the renewal would include the seismic retrofit of highway approaches, as well as better overpasses and interchanges. That is described in the Phase 2 Guide for the Massey Project and shown here. (Click to enlarge.)

I’ve addressed the obvious, but the new government may do better. Perhaps, for example, they’ll work with the port toward extended operating hours that help reduce the route-clogging port traffic at peak hours.

A fast-tracked BC environmental assessment would be great. The previous Massey Replacement assessment seemed to skirt the process, but I picture this one embracing it.

In short, we humans are getting in tune with the estuary. Hurray!

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Notes: This blog includes an extensive Massey Project section.
For an overview of threats to the estuary, see Let the Fraser Live.

Welcome to 2017 gathering—June 21st

June 7, 2017

Update after the event: Here’s a video of a few of the Annual Gathering participants doing Aztec dance.

Dear Friends of Garden City,

Join in our 2017 Annual Gathering on Wednesday, June 21, at the Richmond United Church hall. Our theme is celebration.

As our June 21st date coincides with the solstice, it’s a perfect chance to honour the earth—and to celebrate all who protect her.

And let’s dance together! A bit of dancer-friendly Aztec Dance will enable us to experience conservation in an ancient way.

Note: At left, Sharon MacGougan is dressed for Aztec dancing and holding a conch for it.

But taking part as a dancer is optional. In the circle, all will share in experience of the present that connects with past and future.

Along with celebrating past achievements, we will look ahead to future ones, celebrating the possibilities with a wishing tree.

Art teacher Suzanna Wright (left) will facilitate that with the help of her instant-art skills.

Suzanna will also be greeting you at the sign-in table, and you can pick up her Lulu Island Bog colouring sheets there. (Learn about them here.)

The event also serves briefly as the annual general meeting of the Garden City Conservation Society.

It’s free—no charge except the $10 annual fee for membership in the society. Looking forward to seeing you!

Let us know right away that you’re coming—or thinking about coming. Our Sign-Up Form allows for shades of maybe. Like us, it is unique and has worked well for years.

Let’s celebrate together!
Sharon MacGougan
President, Garden City Conservation Society, and Aztec Dancer

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DETAILS

Please respond:
Visit the Sign-Up Form now to express interest in the gathering and/or to enjoy the unique sign-up approach.

Timetable for Annual Gathering on Wednesday, June 21, 2017:
6:30 pm on: Sign-in, chat and snack (wraps, local strawberries, beverages, etc.
7:00 pm: Start on time.
8:30 pm: Celebration cake and time to chat.
8:45 pm: Clean-up.
9:00 pm: Bye!

Snack: Deliciously healthy finger-food and coffee/tea/juice from 6:30 pm. Delicious cake at 8:30. It can even serve as a light dinner if need be.

Membership in Garden City Conservation Society (to 2018 AGM):
Join/renew, $10 (cash or cheque), at the sign-in table or online (PayPal or credit card) if you support our purposes.* Donations welcome too.

Location:
Richmond United Church hall, 8711 Cambie, on the north side of Cambie Rd just west of Garden City Rd. Park in stalls marked B or C or unmarked. The hall entrance is near the northwest corner. Click the thumbnail at right for a larger image.

Aztec dancing: Click here to see Sharon MacGougan and her Aztec Dance team in action. In the 90-second video, they are dancing at a Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House cultural event earlier this year. Click the thumbnail at right for a larger image of the team.

* Purposes of the Garden City Conservation Society:

  • To help steward the natural legacy of Richmond’s Agricultural Land Reserve area called the Garden City Lands for agricultural, ecological and open-land park uses for community wellness.
  • To research, educate and act to help steward other natural legacies of the “Garden City,” Richmond, in consultation with government and community.
  • To encourage respect for the legacy name “Garden City” as a community value.

Succeeding at the farm house Public Hearing

May 10, 2017

These tips are related to “Exellence in protecting Richmond farmland.” They are tips for the Public Hearing of Monday, March 15, 2017 re farmland house size (floor area).

  1. On the Richmond.ca site, you can see the public hearing agenda. Notice that there are other hearings before the Agriculturally Zoned Land Bylaws at the end. Those preliminary ones will tend to move fast.
  2. It’s a good idea to get a seat early and sign up to speak early (if you wish to speak). The sign-up list will be at a table just outside the council chambers.
  3. The sign-up list will be open for signing from 6:30 p.m. on. Look for it and sign up promptly when you arrive—for yourself only.
  4. However, you could come half an hour or so late if you need to. You may have just standing room at first, but some seats will open up when earlier hearings on the agenda are completed. (It is even possible that staff will open up another room where you can hear what’s going on and come up to speak when it’s your time.)
  5. There’s also a section about public hearings that explains how to make a written submission or a spoken one. Council pays less attention to the written ones, but it’s still worthwhile to send a written one, whether or not you also speak as well.
  6. In written or spoken input to a Public Hearing, it is normal to begin by saying that you support a particular bylaw (perhaps Bylaw 9706) and/or oppose a particular bylaw (perhaps Bylaw 9712 and the related Bylaw 9717).
  7. You can send your written input by email to MayorandCouncillors@richmond.ca or use the online form. Be sure to send it before 4 p.m. on May 15. (That deadline is not an ironclad one, but follow it.)
  8. For speaking to the public hearing, it is useful to come with speaking notes and refer to them while speaking. Also practice a bit, and make sure your remarks will fit easily within ten minutes.
  9. However, most people can make their point quickly, beginning by stating their basic position. It is very effective to have lots of people like you stating their position and giving a concise reason for the position. That makes the point while respecting everyone’s time.
  10. If you have thorough speaking notes that are a rough script, the recording secretary would like to have a copy. You can give a copy to her/him before the meeting begins or right after you speak. (Be sure your name is on it.) This is a thoughtful thing to do, because it makes the recording secretary’s challenging role a bit simpler.
  11. While other people are speaking, make notes so that you can politely rebut their points or reinforce their points.
  12. Even if you did not sign up at the beginning, do this and perhaps speak at the end. The chair (almost always the mayor) will normally ask if there is anyone else who wishes to speak, and at that point you would raise your hand and make sure the chair sees you.
  13. We try to be respectful of the Public Hearing process while helping council to make an informed decision that is best for protecting Richmond’s threatened ALR/Agriculture farmland. We also respect opposing views and the people who state them.
  14. Council members can ask questions of any presenter (normally at the end of the presenter’s remarks), so be prepared for that. In this case they will probably not do that much because of time considerations.
  15. There is an opportunity to speak again for three minutes at the end if new content that will make a difference arises for you to share. (The mayor will ask for a show of hands of anyone who needs to speak again.) If you have made notes and have additional new information to add to a point or refute a point, this is the time to concisely state it.
  16. After all of that, council members will discuss the issue and eventually pass a motion for each bylaw on the topic. For example, there could be a motion to approve Bylaw 9712 or to refer it back to staff with particular instructions.
  17. There’s more on the “Speak at a Public Hearing” page.

The location is the first floor of Richmond City Hall on No. 3 Road at Granville Avenue. There is a fair amount of parking space, but come early to be sure of parking. If need be, park in the parkade to the west, on the other side of Minoru, or in Minoru Park.

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You can scroll up to go to “Excellence in protecting farmland” or simply click on that link.

My explanation to council is also a very useful if you wish to speak in an informed way and work for excellence.

Christy Clark, Andrew Weaver and thermal coal

April 30, 2017

Just before the main election debate for BC party leaders, Christy Clark sent Justin Trudeau a dirty coal letter. Whether or not the two were in cahoots, it is highly political. It seems crafted to save seats in the BC legislature, not BC jobs.

It says, “I am writing you today to ban the shipment of thermal coal from BC ports.”

As an old saying goes, “Who’d have thunk it?”

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Of course, Clark excels at dramatic timing, and she used it to grab the limelight on debate day while prodding Trudeau to do a hatchet job. Still, it is a stunning gambit when a cheerleader for coal, bitumen and LNG turns green.

Clark’s commitment is suspect, but in essence the promise is welcome.

That said, the ban has a cost if Trudeau accepts the mission. It will cost the jobs of Canadians and Americans who mine thermal coal, not just Canadians who ship it.

And Clark vows to enforce it herself if Trudeau falters, using a high tax on exports of thermal coal, even from Alberta. To her credit, at least she is honing her trade-war tactics on nice Canadian neighbours before nipping at Donald Trump to make him behave.

In that vein, Clark implies she has crafted a bargaining chip to combat Trumpian lumber tariffs. However, her ban has left nothing to tempt the Americans to be fair. Perhaps the whole thing is play-acting as an election ploy or bargaining ploy. Whatever else, it is bunkum.

In reality, the American lumber lobby that ceaselessly preys on our lumber sector is anything but playful. If Clark instigates a hostile alliance of US coal and lumber, we might end up with BC lumber shut out of the US market.

Fortunately, American homebuilders want our lumber for their own sake. Also, Canadian companies have hedged by buying into the American lumber industry. That is comforting, but less so for Canadian workers than for shareholders.

Ms. Clark has opened quite the can of worms, which are muddy and tangled and who knows what else. Is there a reset button to push?

Possibly.

With her opportunistic approach to thermal coal, Clark contrasts with the steady Andrew Weaver, leader of the BC Green Party. He has funneled the passion of a values-driven movement into a viable political force. He espouses substance, but his affable nature gives him just enough style.

After the throne speech in 2014, Dr. Weaver proposed an amendment that the government explore all means to “halt the expansion of thermal coal exports in British Columbia.” Sadly, MLAs reacted as party automatons, so Weaver got squelched, 73 to 1. Ouch!

In his post-political way, Weaver stayed collaborative. If more MLAs had stood up for their constituents and aimed for consensus, we could be well along by now.

After all, BC’s grassroots movement that rejects dirty coal is very large and informed, and local governments pitch in. The momentum was free for the taking long before Clark got the impulse to surf it.

In what might have been, the phase-out of thermal coal exports from BC ports would be humming along. Meanwhile, the work ethic of former coal workers would be fueling the new economy, as described in Weaver’s platform. That ship has sailed, but a new cruise is possible, perhaps with a new skipper.

Weaver’s response to the recent Clark letter amounts to support in principle. It means the two leaders are well placed to share expectations and meet them together. Voters willing, they could soon begin with a thermal-coal transition plan, with a focus on jobs but a range of economic and ecological outcomes.

They would best forego any irritating direct linkage with softwood lumber. Instead, our province could take the goodwill from the diplomatic phase-out of thermal coal and bring it into a culture of teamwork with the state of Washington, including joint action to conserve and restore the Salish Sea.

All along, Weaver has known that Clark’s intended George Massey Tunnel removal would, by design, enable a mega increase in BC’s shipping of thermal coal, but he wisely does not cry “Hypocrite!”.

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For alternative views, see the insightful analyses thermal coal export ban promise by Charlie Smith in the Georgia Straight and Kevin Washbrook in the National Observer. Smith has also written an enlightening column that, in effect, compared the views of the BC party leaders on the promise.

The NDP has been quiet on this issue. John Horgan has pointed out that Christy Clark had years to act on thermal coal and that Clark’s threats of retaliation are an irresponsible approach to the softwood lumber issue.

Crisis point for the Fraser Estuary

April 10, 2017

Choosing to save the Fraser Estuary and the wild salmon means choosing to expose and repel the Big Lie Technique.

It is epitomized by the “No plans to dredge” mantra in the Massey Tunnel removal issue.

Here’s one more try to combat the Big Lie.

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Imagine yourself on a spring day five years from now. You’re relaxing in the shade with a sunny view of the Fraser Estuary. Out of the blue, you hear an unseen creative power: “Either keep this as the world’s great salmon river or dredge it deeper to lure more shipping. You must choose.”

Of course, that’s absurd. We really can make the choice, but the time to get results is now, not years from now.

The George Massey Tunnel can still be retained, not removed with unmitigated harm to habitat and the nurture and passage of wild salmon—and orcas and more. In five years, we’ll rue bad consequences if we don’t prevent them now.

This is old news, but it may seem new because it keeps getting negated. Whenever the intent to dredge the channel for larger ships comes up, the BC transport minister or a surrogate jumps in to claim “no plans to dredge.”

In truth, the Massey project’s own 2012 discussion guide says the tunnel is “an impediment to expanded trade at Fraser Surrey Docks (FSD) and points east along the Fraser River” because “many of the newer ocean-going vessels are too large to pass over the tunnel.” Citizens keep simply stating that truth, but denials fog it.

Documents from the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority and Fraser Surrey Docks take further the plans to dredge deeper. With the tunnel gone, they would increase the channel depth by at least two metres to suit Panamax vessels and even some Aframax ones, bearing over 80,000 tonnes.

That doesn’t entirely conflict with “no plans to dredge,” since clear intents to dredge may not be “plans” in every sense. However, the mantra is misleading. And the tactic has been pervasive, even when the BC Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) tried to review the Massey project.

The BC EAO report reveals that First Nations groups like the Musqueam, along with many concerned citizens, alerted the EAO about the “larger plan to dredge the South Arm Fraser River to deepen the channel and accommodate larger vessels,” with “industrialization of the Fraser River.” That was promising.

Then, in response, the transport ministry professed to be “unaware of any plans to dredge the river deeper.” And the port authority “confirmed that VFPA currently has no plans to dredge the Fraser River to create a wider or deeper navigation channel.” The EAO got fooled.

In a Business in Surrey article, FSD CEO Jeff Scott, who is forthright, has described a plan to dredge a little deeper with each annual maintenance. That way, the ship channel depth would be at least 13.5 metres deep (a two-metre increase) within five years. It would be wider too.

After tunnel removal in 2022, an influx of larger freighters and tankers would take over the Fraser. But we can still choose to save the Fraser for wild salmon and ecological riches. The last chance is the BC election, May 9.

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For a slide show on the issue, view Let the Fraser Live!

For hyperlinks to the sources in this article, please see the longer related articles on this Garden City Conservation blog.

The “No plans to dredge the Fraser” plan

March 27, 2017

Dredging ship, Fraser River Pile & Dredge

Removal of the George Massey Tunnel to enable deeper dredging could begin the excruciating demise of the Fraser as the world’s greatest salmon river. In my view, truth has been another casualty.

Let’s focus on the government talking point of “no plans to dredge.” Whenever the intended channel dredging for larger ships comes out, the BC transport minister or a surrogate typically jumps in to say “no plans to dredge” or something much the same.

If you followed the Trump election campaign, you know the stratagem. There, it was “build a wall and make Mexico pay for it” and “replace Obamacare with something terrific” and “never going to lose.” Mantras got drummed in.

With the “no plans to dredge” mantra in the Massey project, there’s a twist that the project’s 2012 discussion guide (page 11) says the tunnel is “an impediment to expanded trade at Fraser Surrey Docks and points east along the Fraser River” because “many of the newer ocean-going vessels are too large to pass over the tunnel.”

Documents from the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority (in a 2013 letter to the Massey project director and in the 2013 president’s report) and from Fraser Surrey Docks express proposals to dredge deeper. With the tunnel gone, they would increase the channel depth by at least two metres to suit larger vessels, some over 80,000 tonnes.

One could say that doesn’t entirely conflict with “no plans to dredge,” since intents to dredge may not be “plans” in every sense. Still, the mantra is misleading.

In 2015 the port authority agreed to Fraser Surrey Docks revising its plans for its thermal coal shipping terminal so it could load large ships (at least Panamax). Since they could only reach the terminal after tunnel removal and deeper dredging, it is obvious that both the port and FSD were planning on the dredging.

Later, the BC Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) report on the Massey project (pages 122) has revealed that the public and Musqueam Indian Band, among others, expressed concerns to the EAO about “a larger plan to dredge the South Arm Fraser River to deepen the channel and accommodate larger vessels,” with “industrialization of the Fraser River.”

But the transport ministry claimed, in response to the EAO, to be “unaware of any plans to dredge the river deeper” (EAO report, page 123). And the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority (VFPA) “confirmed that VFPA currently has no plans to dredge the Fraser River to create a wider or deeper navigation channel” (EAO page 123).

Since the BC Environmental Assessment Office is toothless in this situation, it had to go along with the ministry’s plea it didn’t know anything and the port’s plea it wasn’t planning anything.

“Plan” or not, the documented proposal is to dredge deeper (and wider) in five annual stages. FSD has proposed to simply dredge a little deeper while doing the annual maintenance of the shipping channel. If the project stays on schedule, with tunnel removal in 2022, that step would enable the channel to be used at the new depth of at least 13.5 metres.

In a further twist, the BC EAO report adds, “VFPA also noted that projects proposing new dredging to accommodate vessels that are larger than what the existing channel was designed to accommodate . . . would be subject to review under VFPA’s Project and Environmental Review process” (EAO page 123).

Translation: “Dredging for larger ships will actually occur after all, and the VFPA (alias Port of Vancouver) will handle the environmental protection.” So the fox gets exclusive rights to guard the henhouse.

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Notes: See “Tunnel removal to deep-dredge the Fraser” for more documentation of the planning for deep dredging of the Fraser River ship channel. See Let the Fraser Live! for an exposé of how the situation came to this. See “Transport minister’s myth-busting mission” for an alternative perspective (different from this blog’s).

Update, September 26, 2017: On the very day of the televised leaders debate for the 2017 BC Election, Premier Christy Clark has suddenly found a reason to ask Prime Minister Trudeau to ban thermal coal exports from BC ports. It aims at the thermal coal from the U.S., and it would especially affect the Fraser Surrey Docks situation. Here’s the Clark-to-Trudeau letter.

How the Massey Project comparison of options was rigged

March 13, 2017

In the George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project, the supposed comparison of five scenarios (supposed options) was used to eliminate almost all views other than the anointed one, Scenario 2, “Replace Existing Tunnel with New Bridge.” That was done in several overlapping ways, and this column shows how just one of them discredits the process for anyone who can take the time to follow what happened.

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When the project provided five scenarios, they were presumably ways to proceed that were worth considering. The scenario that appeared to receive the most public support was the obvious one. (In the map illustration below, the concept includes an added “Green Tube,” so-named because it is an environmentally friendly method.)

It had been the expected way to expand the tunnel ever since 1955, when the engineering consultants recommended it in the Fraser River Highway Crossing at Deas Island report. That obvious method was to add a tunnel tube in the tunnel corridor to expand the tunnel by at least two lanes. (See page 13 in this excerpt from the 1955 Crippen Wright Engineering Ltd. report.)

The project included that long-intended step in Scenario 4, “Maintain Existing Tunnel and Build New Crossing along Highway 99 Corridor” (Phase 2 Discussion Guide, p. 2.)

The new tube would apparently comprise two transit/HOV lanes and a multi-use path, in keeping with the Garden City Conservation Society’s proposal based on practical and conservation values.

However, the project then changed the scenario when evaluating and comparing it. In the 2014 MMK report (page 3), we see this:

Retroactively, the scenario had been changed to require the same capacity—ten lanes, etc.—as the project’s preferred one, the bridge. As you can see when you look back and forth, the new wording was thoroughly inconsistent with the scenario stated in the Phase 2 Guide.

A crucial objection to the proposed bridge expressed by Metro Vancouver and many others was that lower capacity would be better, e.g., from standpoints of regional growth and the environment. However, the change that got slipped into the MMK docuement, which got applied to all the scenarios, had the effect of eliminating such ideas from consideration. In one fell swoop, much—perhaps most—of the consultation input to the project was annihilated.

Furthermore, the MMK report made almost no other use of the project’s supposed consultation. There’s a segment that evaluates the scenarios on the basis of  community and regional planning (pp. 25–27), but the bridge option somehow comes out looking good despite the strong opposition of Richmond and Metro Vancouver. (Note: The only other consultation included is with first responders, p. 25.)

This problem appeared again in the project’s application to the BC Environmental Assessment Office which based the related part on “Evaluation of Crossing Scenarios (MMK 2014).” This means that, once again, the project made the excessive size of the bridge a requirement for the other options. That practically precluded the EAO from responding to the environmental harm of the excesses.

The project made the EAO assessment a farce, a huge waste of the taxpayers’ money. This example of supposedly comparing scenarios to choose the best one shows that the project also wasted an incredible amount of good-faith input from Metro Vancouver, local and First Nations governments, and many groups and individuals.

Prince Rupert or Roberts Bank Terminal 2?

November 21, 2016

propose-roberts-bank-terminal-2

We are the people of the Fraser Estuary, lucky to live on its islands. The estuary, where river meets sea, is one of the most productive ecosystems on the planet. But my “Roberts Bank versus Terminal 2” article had to sound an alarm.

After that time, many of us took action by responding to the review panel for Roberts Bank Terminal 2. A federal crown corporation, Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, is behind that project, which would pile 15 million cubic metres of fill into the estuary for a container-shipping site.

In the final few days of public input, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency received 283 comments to the panel from groups and individuals. Their advice ranged from a few words to 100+ pages.

Most of the contributions, including a dozen from First Nations, put the needs and gifts of nature ahead of Port Authority wants. Still, one may ask, how else can we export Canada’s resources to Asia and import more foreign products?

A Richmond resident phrased the answer as a brief request: “Please use the Port of Prince Rupert instead.” That’s best for Prince Rupert, Richmond, our region, our province and our country.

But that solution doesn’t cater to the Port Authority. After all, its main revenue is rent from our federal property under its control. It wants more land, not less control.

In any case, the federal government has known the solution since 2008, when Transport Canada brought experts together to improve the Asia Pacific Gateway. “We recommend,” they said, “that a single port authority be created to include the existing Vancouver ports plus Prince Rupert.”

And they left no doubt: “This is the only way to assure complete collaboration of Canada’s West Coast ports.”

They also asked that policy makers

  • “develop container capacity in Prince Rupert before making investments in Vancouver” and
  • take a systematic approach to capacity before deciding “that a particular port must necessarily be physically larger.”

What’s more, the best current analysis shows that the combined ports can double their container capacity by 2020, without Terminal 2. That would keep them far ahead of increased business, so there’s time to amalgamate smoothly.

For its part, Prince Rupert has the space and desire to expand the capacity of its natural deep-water port. Its industrial land, shorter routes to Asia, rail synergies and top-notch reputation are promising.

Meanwhile, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority uses its “Port of Vancouver” alias to greenwash with ads about its love of the Fraser. It also laments its lack of industrial land to expand its rental holdings, such as the Harvest Power site.

Between sobs, it tries to annex two square kilometres of estuary and buys up fertile farmland like the Gilmore Farm in East Richmond at ALR prices—to rent it out at industrial rates if it can overcome our pro-ALR resistance.

The harm, especially to estuary habitat of international significance, will get beyond repair unless sanity prevails. Unconscionable.

Visit Site C via video with Emma Gilchrist

November 16, 2016

The Site C dam site is far from the Fraser Estuary, but it’s worth keeping close in our thoughts. Before we get into the state of the challenge, let’s make a quick detour to Site C, if only to grasp how distant it is in a way and then how close it deserves to be in what we care about.

Here (below) is the Google Map. It shows a route from Roberts Bank in the estuary to Site C on the Peace River, 1200 kilometres away. Let’s say one travels for seven hours a day. Can you guess how long it takes to get there?

From Roberts Bank in the Fraser River Estuary to Site C on the Peace River

Right! Cycling, 10 days. Driving, 2 days. Walking, 5 weeks.

By video, seconds. You’re almost there!

emma-gilchrist-at-site-cRichmond’s Coun. Harold Steves has reminded us that our fellow British Columbians in the Peace Valley are standing up for agricultural, ecological and human values there as strongly as ever. He said to watch Cutting the Spin about the Site C Dam. Five minutes well spent!

Site C on the Peace River, BCThe video features Emma Gilchrist, executive director of DeSmog Canada. Today she added another Site C video, turning phoney polling by the BC government on its head.

Reach it from the article “70% of British Columbians Support Pausing Site C Dam Construction, New Poll Finds.” Only three minutes—well spent!

Respond to the Environmental Assessment Review Panel re Roberts Bank Terminal 2 by Oct 28, 2016

October 24, 2016
Rendering of proposed Terminal 2, Roberts Bank

Rendering of proposed Terminal 2, Roberts Bank, Delta, British Columbia

If you have concerns about Port Metro Vancouver’s proposed Terminal 2 at Roberts Bank, you have till Friday, October 28 to respond. (That’s until midnight, but send your comments before 9 p.m. Pacific Time to be safe.)

Email to the Review Panel, Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project, Panel.RBT2@ceaa.gc.ca, with your comments in the message or an attachment.

If you’re still learning about it, you could scroll down to “Roberts Bank Terminal 2 versus environment,” the article just below this one, for background.

Also, Delta conservationist Susan Jones knows the issue better than anyone, and she has prepared this sheet of “Many reasons to reject Terminal 2 at Roberts Bank.” It’s a Word document so that it’s easy to copy and paste points—and typically then refine them for one’s comments to the review panel.

Your submission does not have to be long.  The following are two examples of short but powerful letters that have been submitted:

We wish to go on record as being adamantly OPPOSED to any further expansion of the Deltaport. Volumes have been written outlining the fact the flyway for migrating birds will be adversely affected. After it has been done, there will be little gratification in hearing those responsible say “sorry”.

The location of the proposed terminal is the best Dungeness crab grounds on the Fraser river flats. There is no way that these crab grounds can be duplicated anywhere else. This is a shame if those grounds are lost. It looks to me that Port Metro won’t give up until they turn Delta into an industrial park regardless of habitat and the environment.

On the Terminal 2 page at the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, you can see various ways to follow up. One way is to look at some of the comments the Review Panel has received so far.

Please take action by mailing your comments now.

 

 

Roberts Bank Terminal 2 versus environment

October 23, 2016
Port Metro Vancouver rendering of Terminal 2 (lower left) on Roberts Bank, south of Richmond

Port Metro Vancouver rendering of Terminal 2 (lower left) on Roberts Bank, south of Richmond

Port Metro Vancouver, with its self-granted “supremacy” over Metro Vancouver and the ALR, has changed its name—to Port of Vancouver—but kept its ways. They’re not so great for our island city and estuary, the Fraser River Estuary. That’s a challenge.

A current issue is the port’s proposal for Roberts Bank Terminal 2. It would require an artificial island twice the size of the Garden City Lands. As well, aspects like a widened causeway and dredging would make the project directly harmful to wildlife and fish in a much larger area.

A B.C. Ministry of Environment guide describes what’s at stake: “Estuaries, formed where rivers enter the ocean and fresh water mixes with the saltwater environment, are among the most productive ecosystems on earth.” That’s still fairly true of ours, but the port’s empire building doesn’t help.

Fortunately, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency has a review panel assessing Terminal 2. At the panel’s request, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) recently expressed its view, which is subtly scathing.

Excerpt: “ECCC concludes that there is a risk of significant adverse environmental effects to biofilm and consequently migratory shorebirds, in particular Western Sandpiper. Resultantly, the predicted effectiveness of the proposed monitoring and follow-up program is insufficient.”

And “Changes to biofilm composition at Roberts Bank have the potential to affect nutrient availability at Brunswick Point during the key spring migratory period, which could have species-level consequences to migratory birds.”

The wonder-food biofilm, along with the vast but at-risk flocks that refuel with it, is a well-known ecological factor. Yet the port brushed it off!

I should also mention that 15 million cubic metres of fill would be dumped in the estuary to form the Terminal 2 island. It’s almost impossible to find that much clean fill, and much of the fill would likely be laced with PCBs. After building up in fish, those chemicals can harm the health of fish eaters.

For British Columbia, especially Richmond and our estuary, there’s a much better alternative to Terminal 2. It could even be good for the port (as a crown corporation), with a chance to regain respect in a new role after getting too full of itself. I’ll have to save the solution for another “Digging Deep.”

For now, you know enough to become involved if you wish. If you’d like to comment to the review panel, act quickly. Deadline: This Friday, October 28.

In any case, by getting this far you’ve already done something to help. You’ve grown in awareness, and it adds up.

Basically,  you can put your comments in an email or in an attachment to the email. Then send it to Panel.RBT2@ceaa.gc.ca. For more tips and links, go to this short and helpful article.

Richmond Tree Protection Bylaw Information Sessions

October 22, 2016

Gordon Jaggs. Tree Preservation Coordnator, Richmond, BC

Update, Dec. 30, 2016:The City of Richmond is holding well-received Info Sessions on the Tree Protection Bylaw.  The first three sessions all went well. Take part in one of the remaining ones. Just click on the Info Sessions on the Tree Protection Bylaw for dates, times and locations.

The “Tree Protection Bylaw Information Sessions” are led by Gordon Jaggs (left), Richmond’s Tree Preservation Coordinator.

The evening are well attended, and participants have had plenty of good things to say about them.

The basic purpose of each of the Tree Protection sessions is to outline how trees are assessed for both retention and removal.  The format allows plenty about half the time for questions and comments.

Some of the other topics that come up:

  • The Parks Department street tree program
  • Innovative measures used during development to retain mature trees
  • Other tree retention projects


Sharon MacGougan, President, Garden City Conservation Society, Richmond, BCA note from Sharon MacGougan:

Garden City Conservation has been working with Save Richmond Trees, a group concerned about the significant loss of mature trees from neighbourhoods. I have made Garden City Conservation Society recommendations to council about this, and Cindy Lee and others have come up with Tree Group Strategies.

The information sessions are an opportunity to learn and have our concerns heard. Please consider attending one of the sessions to speak for trees.

Sharon MacGougan
President, Garden City Conservation Society

Trudeau gov’t favours dirty U.S. coal, not our agriculture and eco-rich river?

October 13, 2016

Hon. Lawrence MacAulay, Canadian Minister of Agriculture“Port development trumps agriculture: federal minister MacAulay” says the headline of Country life in BC, October 2016. It adds, “Senior level of gov’t has the right to exclude BC farms from land reserve.” Breathtaking, like a sucker punch to the solar plexus.

A bit of relief begins with the date of his comment, September 12, two weeks before Steveston–Richmond East MP Joe Peschisolido hosted Hon. Lawrence MacAulay (right), along with many Richmond citizens, at Richmond Country Farms  on September 25. MacAulay is Agriculture Minister in the Trudeau government.

As far as I can tell, Joe Peschisolido is trying hard to represent his constituents. When Joe introduced me to the minister, I tried to share a little related insight (with little response), and Joe told me later that he had turned that into an opportunity to explain our Richmond/BC perspective.

So far I’ve seen no tangible result, but I’m still hoping that something is in the works, especially since the threat of deep dredging of the Fraser River ship channel is so closely tied to the still-absent federal environmental assessment of the “Port Metro Bridge” project.

I’ll share the main part of the Country Life article below and then an outstanding letter to the minister and others from Susan Jones of the Boundary Bay Conservation Committee and then a link to an also-excellent Stephen Rees blog post.

clife_lmacaulay

Here’s the letter from Susan Jones to the minister, prime minster et al.:

Federal Liberal Government misled by Port of Vancouver misinformation

It is alarming that the new Liberal Government of Canada is being completely misled by the Port of Vancouver.  

It is difficult to believe the statements by the federal Minister of Agriculture, Lawrence MacAulay in reference to B.C. agricultural land protected by the provincial Agricultural Land Reserve: “Lower Mainland farmland could be sacrificed to ensure agri-food exports can move to market quickly and efficiently, federal agriculture minister Lawrence MacAulay told Country Life in BC” (“Port Development trumps B.C. agriculture: federal minister MacAulay, Country Life in B.C., October 2016).”

Canada wants to increase export-ready agri-food exports to China and other Asian countries.  It is ironic that the Port of Vancouver claims it needs to industrialize Canada’s best farmland in order to export agricultural products.

There is no evidence to support the claim that we need to industrialize farmland.  This is a ploy by the Port of Vancouver to expand its real estate holdings which will enrich the crown corporation and associates.  It has nothing to do with sensible port business.

Exporting agricultural products has been, and continues to be, important to the Canadian economy.  It can continue without using the precious 5% B.C. farmland.  

The largest increase in agricultural exports is wheat and other grains, which are being accommodated by a new massive grain terminal in North Vancouver.

In terms of processed foods, which were stressed in the article, Vancouver exported 20% more tonnage in 2010 than in 2015.

Fraser Surrey Docks is a wonderful terminal with a large stretch of industrial land which is ideal for the export of specialty crops and processed foods.  The current plans for funneling dirty US thermal coal through this great site are uneconomical and a waste of our precious port lands.             

The Prime Minister and federal Ministers of Agriculture, Transport, Natural Resources, Environment, Fisheries, and Trade don’t seem to be aware they are being duped by the Port of Vancouver.  Isn’t it time to stop listening to paid lobbyists and old guard civil servants and advisors? 

Isn’t it time to listen to public concerns about protecting the ecosystems of the Fraser River delta which interactively support the world’s best salmon river, Canada’s rich farmland, and Canada’s Most Important Bird Area for shorebirds, waterfowl and birds of prey?

For further insight, see Stephen Rees’s blog post, “Port development trumps agriculture.”