MLAs Guy Gentner (bottom left) and Vicki Huntington raised questions in the legislature this week about the possibility of a foreign trade zone in South Delta.

MLAs Guy Gentner and Vicki Huntingdon raised questions in the Legislature this week about the possibility of a foreign trade zone in South Delta.  

Delta South MLA Vicki Huntington is raising alarm bells that valuable agricultural land could be turned into a tax-free industrial wasteland.

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Noting South Delta and, in particular, land around the Deltaport container terminal would be prime candidates, Huntington asked Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Blair Lekstrom if the government is contemplating such a zone in Delta.

She said even though she had been told it could end up elsewhere, it's suspicious that B.C. Rail has stockpiled more land than it requires for rail expansion and that a land consolidation group is secretly optioning agricultural land in Delta.

"A Dubai model free trade zone has nothing to do with community. The whole point of a modern free trade zone is to protect business from community. This isn't about jobs. It's about greed. It's about flipping land in Delta, and it's about the destruction of the finest agricultural land in Canada," Huntington said during question period Tuesday.

"I'm asking this minister: if this feasibility study recommends free trade zones in B.C., will the minister tell us today that his government will not remove land from the ALR to create an industrial wasteland in Delta?"

Lekstrom responded by pointing out what's being explored are foreign trade zones and not free trade zones. He said he doesn't want to predetermine what the report will say.

Lekstrom, noting the zones are not a new concept and are in use around the world, said a location hasn't been determined.
The zones were created in the United States to provide special customs procedures, including duty-free treatment, to U.S. firms engaged in international trade-related activities. By having goods sitting in the zones, duty payment is deferred on those items until they are brought out for sale in the market. The zones are supposed to help to offset customs advantages available to overseas producers who compete with domestic industry.

GCT Global Container Terminals Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan and one of the largest financial institutions in Canada, wants the federal government to explore establishing foreign trade zones in this country. The company operates four container terminals through several principal businesses, including TSI Terminal Systems Inc. at Deltaport.

Global Container Terminals is part of a steering committee that includes YVR, CN, CPR, Port Metro Vancouver, Halifax and Montreal Ports, and Centreport in Winnipeg. The committee wants a review of federal policies and processes regarding foreign trade zones and has made the B.C. government aware of its efforts.  {Snip} ...

Waltz noted lands adjacent to Deltaport, which is eyed for a major container terminal expansion in the next few years, could be an ideal candidate to establish a foreign trade zone, particularly the new logistics centre that will open at the Tsawwassen First Nation.

Delta North NDP MLA Guy Gentner described it all as one of the biggest assaults yet on Delta.

Read this whole story HERE.