B.C. issues certificate for contentious Roberts Bank terminal project

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VICTORIA — The B.C. government has issued an environmental assessment certificate for the contentious container port expansion project at Roberts Bank, saying the province “could not prohibit the project from going forward.”

In a written statement, the government says the three-berth marine container terminal in Delta rests almost entirely on federal land.

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With the project gaining approval from the federal government in April, the province says it has decided to issue the certificate with requirements to safeguard provincial interests.

The government has set out 16 conditions to offset adverse effects the expansion will have on the area, including a wetland management plan, a wildlife management plan and a greenhouse-gas reduction plan for emissions.

The province says it is aware that two parties are asking for a judicial review of the federal decision to approve the expansion, but B.C.’s ministers decided to issue the certificate to make sure the project doesn’t go forward without addressing their concerns.

The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, which proposed the project, says the expansion is needed to prevent a capacity bottleneck at the Canada Pacific Gateway, the country’s most important trade corridor with more than $275 billion in trade passing through each year.

Five environmental groups launched a combined legal challenge in May against the expansion plan, saying the project would disrupt “critical habitat” for the roughly 70 endangered southern resident killer whales that are in the waters near the port.

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