A big biodiversity threat

RBT2 press conference speakers with a Stop Terminal 2 banner - credit Wilderness Committee

Opposition is strong against the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 project – and it’s getting stronger.

Opposition against the destructive RBT2 project was reinvigorated and renewed in late September when the Province of B.C. granted its environmental approval. The rationale was weak: the project will move forward regardless of what the Province does because most of the project is within federal jurisdiction. Therefore, and without any regard for the environmental and social turmoil this project will bring to the Salish Sea, provincial Ministers Heyman and Fleming approved it.

At GSA, we are incredibly disappointed by the lack of leadership from the Province in their decision not to oppose a project that will kill thousands of local jobs and have permanent adverse environmental effects on local biodiversity, including at-risk species like Pacific salmon.

However, this is the perfect time to remember that the federal approval is not final: it’s currently being challenged by two separate judicial reviews. At GSA, we’re behind one of those legal actions, alongside three ENGOs, represented by Ecojustice.

Lummi Nation in Washington State also filed a judicial review in Canada’s federal court. The Nation was not included in the consultation process, despite holding transboundary rights.

Did you know? Premier Eby showed public support for the project before the provincial consultation began

Our legal argument is that federal approval is unlawful because a project cannot be deemed “justified” under environmental assessment legislation when it is contrary to another statute – the Species at Risk Act (SARA).

The Fraser River is the largest estuary in North America, it is a Key Biodiversity Area in B.C., and it is categorized as being of global importance. There are some 100+ at-risk species that call this delicate area – where river and ocean meet – home, including the Southern Resident orca, which are protected under SARA and whose critical habitat will be affected by the project.

At GSA, we ensured the Province of B.C. knew the extent of the cross-sector opposition to this mega marine infrastructure project in North America’s largest estuary. The proposal for a new shipping berth requires humanmade modification to natural habitat equivalent to 170 football fields at the mouth of the Fraser River.

We joined forces with more than a dozen nature organizations, including Birds Canada and Wilderness Committee, and also teamed up with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union of Canada, and the BC General Employees’ Union. We recognize that this project will be equally devastating for jobs as it will be for the environment and it needs to be stopped!

Juvenile salmon

Together, we publicly and directly asked the Province to reject this project because of the impacts it will have on:

  • Species-at-risk, including Southern Resident orcas and wild Pacific salmon,
  • Biodiversity loss, which is accelerating due to human-made degradation, and
  • Dock workers are likely to lose family-supporting jobs to complete automation in the new terminal.

Until colonial governments act in recognition that a robust economy and healthy environment are interdependent, we won’t be able to significantly halt biodiversity loss.

We facilitated 3377 people sending letters to the Province to reject the project.

Thank you to all of you who did: your voices will not go unheard as the fight continues to stop this project!

The fight against this massively destructive project continues and we hope we can count on your support with our next steps, which we will share with you soon!

Article from GSA’s 2023 Winter Newsletter

Image credits: Wilderness Committee & Fernando Lasso


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *