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e-4356 (Environment)

Initiated by Alex Harris from Salt Spring Island, British Columbia

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

  • The Port of Vancouver is proposing to double the size of its shipping terminal at Roberts Bank in the Fraser River Estuary in BC;
  • The project would create a new 108 hectare concrete island in the middle of the estuary;
  • Terminal 2 will further destroy habitat in an estuary that has already lost more than 70% of its floodplain habitat;
  • The Fraser Estuary supports 102 species considered at-risk of extinction;
  • The Fraser River Estuary is habitat for at-risk species, including endangered Southern Resident killer whales and Fraser Chinook salmon, the former of which are listed under Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act;
  • Fraser River Chinook salmon are a transboundary species that are subject to the international Pacific Salmon Treaty. They are of ecological, economic, and cultural importance;
  • Southern Resident killer whales have legally-protected Critical Habitat in the Fraser estuary;
  • The federal Impact Assessment Agency identified irreversible impacts that Terminal 2 would have on Southern Resident killer whales, Fraser River Chinook salmon, and other wildlife;
  • The federal Impact Assessment Agency determined that the project impacts on Southern Resident killer whales from decreased abundance of Fraser Chinook within critical habitat would constitute a violation of the Species at Risk Act; and
  • Canada’s commitments to species recovery and biodiversity, as stated at COP15, run contrary to approval of Terminal 2.
We, the undersigned, residents of Canada, call upon the Minister of Environment and Climate Change to utilize the collective evidence presented by Canada’s Impact Assessment Agency, peer-reviewed scientific research, and local conservation organizations to reject the proposed Roberts Bank Terminal 2 expansion in the Fraser River Estuary.

Response by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): The Honourable STEVEN GUILBEAULT

Thank you for your petition dated April 26, 2023, regarding the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project.

The project was subject to an environmental assessment under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 (CEAA 2012). The assessment was conducted by an independent expert Review Panel. The Panel completed its review of the Project and issued its report on March 27, 2020.

To help inform decision-making, on August 24, 2020, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change requested that the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority provide additional information, including on fish and fish habitat, potential effects on Southern Resident Killer Whale, salinity relating to biofilm and Western Sandpiper, as well as potential effects on Indigenous communities.

On April 20, 2023, the Government of Canada decided that the project can proceed. The approval of this project comes after extensive consultation with local communities and Indigenous groups. The project is subject to 370 legally binding conditions to protect the environment, local wildlife and land-use activities of Indigenous peoples. These conditions include:

  • Over 100 measures protective of local wildlife such as developing habitat creation programs to support western sandpiper populations and other shorebirds;
  • Development and implementation of an adaptive management approach to prevent negative effects to biofilm, which includes a minimum of three years of monitoring key parameters reviewed by an independent scientific body;
  • Limiting in-water construction to the window of least risk for several marine species;
  • Requirement for zero-emission cargo handling equipment on-site and to offer electrical power to vessels while berthed;
  • Installation of infrastructure to permit the safe passage of fish;
  • Requirement to avoid, mitigate and offset effects to fish and fish habitat and develop a follow-up program to monitor any impacts to the region's salmon as a result of the project;
  • Creation of a marine mammals' detection and response plan to protect marine mammals during construction; and
  • To further protect Southern Resident Killer Whales, the proponent must monitor noise levels to remain at or below a certain baseline level, implement procedures to delay departures of container vessels and reduce underwater noise during berthing activities when whales are present in the project area.

The Government of Canada also announced over $45 million to accommodate project impacts on Indigenous rights in order to preserve, promote and develop Indigenous culture, heritage and stewardship activities. This funding will also establish a Stewardship Committee.

As a condition of approval of the project, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority must also put in place a $150-million financial guarantee to ensure funds are available for the first three years of construction to comply with these legally binding conditions.

These legally binding protection measures build on existing and planned work by the Government of Canada to protect local species and marine mammals on the West Coast including Southern Resident Killer Whales and Chinook Salmon, such as:

  • Canada's Oceans Protection Plan, which is providing over $3.5 billion to protect Canada's coasts and waterways;
  • A new $151.9 million through Budget 2023 to protect endangered whales which is a renewal of the Whale Initiative first announced in 2018; and 
  • $165.4 million through Budget 2023 to establish a Green Shipping Corridor Program to spur the launch of the next generation of clean ships, invest in shore power technology, and prioritize low-emission and low-noise vessels at ports.
  • Federal finance tools to further support efforts to reduce noise impacts to species and reduce greenhouse gases, including the Canada Infrastructure Bank, which as part of its $5 billion Public Transit Priority has financing available for conversion to zero-emission ferries.

The project will be key to supporting Canada's economic growth over the coming years. Canada's Pacific Gateway is Canada's most important trade corridor with over $275 billion of trade passing through the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority each year. In the coming years, the Government believes Canada's major west coast ports will reach maximum capacity, meaning congestion will become a chronic issue. This project would increase the port's capacity by 50 per cent. Without this port expansion, $3 billion in added GDP would be jeopardized by capacity shortages. The project is also expected to create hundreds of jobs during construction, and several hundred more both onsite and off-site during operations.

The Government of Canada is committed to protecting the environment while ensuring that projects critical to Canadian workers and businesses can proceed in a responsible manner.




Open for signature
March 13, 2023, at 1:45 p.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
April 12, 2023, at 1:45 p.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands)
April 26, 2023 (Petition No. 441-01349)
Government response tabled
June 9, 2023
Photo - Elizabeth May
Saanich—Gulf Islands
Green Party Caucus
British Columbia