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Final Ottawa decision on Roberts Bank container terminal project delayed to November

By Leo Ryan, Editor

The Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (IAAC) announced that Jonathan Wilkinson, the federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change, has extended the time limit by 90 days to late November for the issuance of a final decision on the proposed $3 billion Roberts Bank Terminal 2 (RBT2) project by the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority “in light of circumstances surrounding COVID-19.” The Minister granted the extension on April 3 after receiving the report of the Review Panel on March 27, IAAC told Maritime Magazine in an emailed statement.

The project to build a new three-berth terminal to meet anticipated future demand has been assessed under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA 2012) by a three-member Review Panel since 2016. It would provide capacity for an additional 2.4 million TEUs annually by 2025.  However, the port’s biggest tenant and operator of two container terminals, GCT Canada, has launched its own project and filed for a federal judicial review.

In its emailed message, the IACC stated: “Under CEAA, the Minister has the authority to grant timeline extensions for project-specific circumstances. If the project is authorized to proceed, the Minister will issue a Decision Statement including conditions related to the project, which would become legally binding on the proponent, no later than November 22, 2020.”

It added that the extension “will ensure that the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada has sufficient time to engage the public and consult Indigenous group on the potential environmental assessment conditions that the proponent must comply with, should the project be authorized to proceed.”

In addition, the IACC stated that should the Minister agree with the Review Panel that there are likely adverse environmental effects as a result of the project (see MM report on April 2, 2020 for details), a decision by the Governor in Council (the Governor General acting on the advice of Cabinet) “on whether those effects are justified under the circumstances is required.” (Roberts Bank photo by VFPA)