Fraser Surrey Docks has been OK'd for a facility for coal brought in by train from the U.S. and barged down the Fraser River to a shipping terminal at Texada Island.

Fraser Surrey Docks has been OK'd for a facility for coal brought in by train from the U.S. and barged down the Fraser River to a shipping terminal at Texada Island.

UPDATE: Opponents react to coal transfer facility approval at Fraser Surrey Docks

Fraser River facility will unload trains to travel through White Rock and South Surrey to a shipping facility at Texada Island.

Fraser Surrey Docks will soon be shipping coal overseas.

Port Metro Vancouver announced Thursday morning it has approved a long-proposed coal-transfer facility at Fraser Surrey Docks.

It would take at least four million tonnes of U.S. coal by train through White Rock and Surrey each year and send it by barge down the Fraser River to Texada Island for reloading to ocean-going ships.

Environmentalists, residents and other groups opposed to the project had raised concerns about the terminal’s potential harm on the  environment and air quality.

Fraser Health Authority chief medical health officer Dr. Paul Van Buynder called last year for a full health-impact  assessment, and criticism of the project has also come from Metro Vancouver cities, Vancouver Coastal Health, Vancity and the B.C. Nurses Union. Climate-change activists, including Voters Taking Action on Climate Change (VTACC) believe U.S. coal might stay in the ground and not be burnt overseas if new coal terminals aren’t built in Metro Vancouver or along the U.S. west coast.

The South Surrey/White Rock Chamber of Commerce also took a stance against the project, although the Surrey Board of Trade supported it, along with such stakeholders as the United Steelworkers and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.

In announcing last week that the project is going ahead, Port Metro Vancouver noted it was aware of opposition to the facility, but said “all public, municipal, agency, First Nations and other stakeholder concerns and questions” were addressed, adding that “should there exist any risk of adverse impacts of the proposal… those impacts could be mitigated to acceptable levels.”

Some opponents were not surprised the project received the go-ahead.

“It was pretty disappointing, but not unexpected,” said White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin, who last year attended a protest against increased coal traffic through the Peninsula, along with Surrey-White Rock Liberal MLA Gordon Hogg, White Rock Coun. Helen Fathers and Surrey Coun. Barinder Rasode.

“It will ultimately mean a lot more trains going through,” Baldwin said, noting that the issue of the full health-impact assessment called for by Van Buynders has yet to be undertaken.

“It strengthens our resolve about getting something done about dangerous goods and excessive train traffic through our community.”

“I knew it was coming,” said Paula Williams, co-organizer of the grassroots South Surrey-based network Communities and Coal, which has been sharply critical of the Fraser Surrey Docks expansion project and potential health impacts since being formed last year. “So it’s not necessarily a surprise. I’m disappointed, yes, but not surprised.”

The Crescent Beach resident noted Golder Associates Ltd., which did a review of the project – and is described by Port Metro Vancouver in its releases as “an independent environmental consultant” – has a business relationship with the Macquarie Group, parent company of Fraser Surrey Docks.

“They have gone into business together in different partnerships to bid on projects, including an airport tunnel in Toronto and a construction contract in Alaska,” she said. “I’m not sure of the definition of an independent third-party reviewer (that Port Metro Vancouver is using), but it doesn’t sit well.”

Williams said it appeared from the Port Metro Vancouver website that Golder just spot-checked information, rather than gathering data themselves.

However, Peter Xotta, vice-president of planning and operations at Port Metro Vancouver, said the decision was not taken lightly.

“Through our comprehensive project review process, stakeholder consultation, as well as third-party validated environmental and health studies, it was determined there are no unacceptable risks and the project could be permitted.”

Port Metro Vancouver says the $15-million project will provide 25 direct and 25 indirect full-time jobs. Approval came after a lengthy review process.

“Over the past two years, a significant amount of work and a number of comprehensive studies have gone into ensuring this project is safe and that concerns raised were addressed,” said Jeff Scott, president and CEO of Fraser Surrey Docks.

“We take our obligation to the community very seriously, as we have for over 50 years. We understand our responsibility and will deliver on our commitment to ensure this project is operated safely and responsibly.”

Williams said the decision took two years because of public and political pressure for an environmental assessment, not necessarily because a thorough review was completed. She said her group will now go into a “different stage of battle,” calling the situation a “chess game” they’re ready for.

“We’re not going away. We’re still committed to obtaining an independent health-impact statement. Even though Port Metro Vancouver is hiding behind (the limits of) its jurisdictional responsibilities, someone has to take responsibility.

“We’re not trying to stop shipments of coal – we just want the truth.”

The docks are located on South Fraser Perimeter Road, southwest of the Pattullo Bridge.

 

Just Posted

Chilliwack’s Jordyn Huitema, a member of the Canadian national women’s soccer squad.
Another scoreless draw for Chilliwack’s Jordyn Huitema and Canadian national women’s soccer squad

Canada played Brazil to a 0-0 tie days after doing the same in a friendly against the Czech Republic

FVRD surveyed public opinion on cannabis production and processing in the electoral areas. Odour and distance from residential areas were the top concerns. (Black Press file)
Cannabis production and processing rules being drafted by Fraser Valley Regional District

Data from public opinion survey will be used to guide cannabis-related land use

Robert Nelson, 35, died after being stabbed at a homeless camp in Abbotsford on April 7 of this year.
Mom pleads for information about son’s killing at Abbotsford homeless camp

Robert Nelson, 35, described as ‘man who stood for justice, honour, respect’

Police arrest the suspect in an attempted armed bank robbery on June 2 at the Scotiabank at Gladwin Road and South Fraser Way in Abbotsford. (Photo by Garry Amyot)
Abbotsford bank robbery suspect who was stopped by customers faces more charges

Neil Simpson now faces total of eight charges, up from the initial two

Black Press file photo.
COVID exposure recorded at Kent Elementary

Students, families encouraged to keep monitoring for symptoms

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. watching U.K.’s COVID struggles but don’t think province will see similar pitfalls

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during an appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Appeal Court rejects stay for Alberta couple facing third trial in son’s death

Pair accused in their earlier trials of not seeking medical attention for their son sooner

Most Read