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.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

UBC Sports Hall of Famer Carrie (Watson) Watts (far right, front row) helped lead the UBC Thunderbirds to the 2004 national championship, their first since 1974. She served as assistant coach a few years after graduation. (Photo/UBC)
Agassiz-born basketball star inducted into UBC Sports Hall of Fame

Carrie (Watson) Watts helped lead the team to their first championship in decades

Motorists breaking travel rules can be fined $230 for failing to follow instructions or $575 if the reason for travel violates the essential travel health order, at this Highway 3 check area near Manning Park. Photo RCMP
RCMP begin stopping drivers on BC highways – check point at Manning Park

Four check points are set up Thursday May 6 around the province

Winnie Peters, centre, spoke about the loss of two husbands over the years, both of who were murdered. The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls event in Hope on May 5, 2021 included prayers for men who have been killed as well. (Jessica Peters/ Hope Standard)
Red dresses hang in Hope’s Memorial Park in remembrance

Group gathers for National Day of Awareness of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

The Aquilini Investment Group has agreed to a proposed contract of five years to run the Abbotsford Centre. (File photo)
Proposal to run Abbotsford Centre offered to Canucks ownership group

Planned five-year contract to cost city $750K annually, starting Jan. 1, 2022

Two locations marked in red on the map show where alcohol can be consumed in Vedder Park starting in June. (City of Chilliwack)
Chilliwack council approves continued alcohol consumption in Vedder Park

After last summer’s pilot there were no significant issues arising from alcohol allowed in 2 parks

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

Surrey RCMP is investigating after a serious three-vehicle crash at the intersection of King George Boulevard and 128th Street Thursday afternoon (May 6, 2021). (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
VIDEO: Serious crash in Surrey sends 1 to hospital

Surrey RCMP say one of the drivers fled on foot, but was later found at an area hospital

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

John Paul Fraser, executive director of the BC Salmon Farmers Association. (Screen shot)
Salmon farmers warn Surrey jobs on line as feds end Discovery Islands operations

344 full-time jobs at risk in Surrey and 1,189 B.C.-wide

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

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C.’s first electric school bus making the rounds in Victoria suburbs

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

Victoria police say the photo they circulated of an alleged cat thief was actually a woman taking her own cat to the vet. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Photo of suspected cat thief released by Victoria police actually just woman with her pet

Police learned the she didn’t steal Penelope the cat, and was actually taking her cat to the vet

Most Read