Friday, September 09, 2011
BC Rail abused again ... and again ... but this can be stopped
The Delta Optimist - September 9, 2011
Read more: http://www.delta-optimist.com/Premier+should+hold+true+town+hall+meeting+Delta/5378733/story.html#ixzz1XVAZlkyM
Whilst I was pleased to hear that you were in Delta recently, I was disappointed that the town hall was not more of an open meeting where you could have heard from a cross section of Delta residents. From what I understand was your audience I doubt that you got a balanced viewpoint on one of the most important issues for South Delta - Port Metro Vancouver's (PMV) plans to more than double the size of the container port out on Roberts Bank by building a second terminal with three new container berths.
As you will no doubt have heard, Delta - and South Delta in particular - is a farming community; has been since the early days of our municipality. We have some of the richest farmland in the whole of BC, but now some of our best farmland - too much - is being lost to industrial development. The South Fraser Perimeter Road is but one example and it is paving over large tracts of what was once productive land. Plans for industrializing the Roberts back up lands, in support of massive port expansion, are quietly moving forward mostly under the radar. There are plans to build a warehouse and container storage facility on what is top quality farmland. BC Rail has spent over $15 million purchasing over 150 acres of prime Delta farmland - quite possibly so that they are ready to expand their port rail facilities and put in a 15-track rail yard. [Emphasis added. BCM.] And then there is the issue of a free trade zone, which, if it were to go ahead, would also likely be constructed on farmland.
Member[s] of your cabinet might remember our community group -
Against Port Expansion (www.againstportexpanion.org
We of course recognize that the Deltaport container terminal is one of the BC gateways to Asia, but that does not warrant unbridled port expansion. As Councilor Bruce McDonald asked at a council meeting not too long ago, when discussing PMV's plans, "When is enough enough?" We already host the largest container port on the B.C. west coast and Delta residents are not willing to have South Delta transformed into an industrial community. Delta is not about to become the doormat for the Asia Pacific Gateway.
Premier Clark, you have said that you and your government are going to listen and be open to ideas, so here are some suggestions that will accommodate trade growth for many years, without the need to ever build a second container terminal on Roberts Bank:
* Maximize the productivity of the existing Deltaport footprint. Similar size ports elsewhere are capable of handling 2.7 million containers (TEUs). Deltaport currently handles less than half of this volume.
* Implement alternatives to the trucking of containers on and off the port. Delta is at its limit in terms of truck traffic and the South Fraser Perimeter Road does not solve the problem - it merely moves the container traffic gridlock to the Massey Tunnel. Containers can be moved on and off the port by barge or short haul rail to existing multimodal rail yards on the Fraser River or to other distribution facilities in the Lower Mainland. If a Free Trade Zone is to be built then that is also where it should be located.
* Follow the recommendations made by a federal government panel of experts in 2008 who said that port expansion at Prince Rupert should be maximized before any further port infrastructure is built in the Lower Mainland. At full build-out Prince Rupert could accommodate up to five million containers (TEUs). Today it handles less than 0.5 million containers. Prince Rupert provides a much faster trade route between Asia and Eastern and Central Canada and the US than would ever be possible via Deltaport.
Here is our final suggestion. Let's hold a true town hall meeting in Delta to discuss port expansion. You tell us the date that you can come and we will set up a public forum and invite our Mayor and Council as well as Delta residents to come out so that you have the opportunity to hear their views.
So - will you come?
Executive DirectorAgainst Port Expansion Community Group
Anyway, Prince Rupert is already on-line and waiting to ramp up when need be; but putting a free-trade zone there, when it only matters for manufactured imports nowadays, does not make geographical sense; not from p.r., not when the aim is marketing down the west coast into cali. and even beyond.
would you care to comment on other Free Trade Zones. Vicki Huntington called them "Foreign Trade Zones". My questions revolve around their apparent insulation from customs inspection. Ideal for skulduggery, wouldn't you say.
The Winnipeg FTZ is especially interesting.
It's a very interesting link indeed.
Quote: CentrePort Canada – Winnipeg’s 20,000 acre inland port and trade area – will be the first and only foreign trade zone in Canada.