Dix promises review of Surrey coal terminal proposal

From Business in Vancouver

NDP Leader Adrian Dix has added yet another subject for review, should his party form government: the Surrey Fraser Docks’ thermal coal export terminal.

Voters Taking Action on Climate Change (VTACC) – a citizens group opposed to oil and coal exports – called on Dix at a weekend rally to take a stand against the $13.7 million project, as he did against the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

Dix took no such stance, but on Saturday he did promise to review the proposal. Dix has promised 17 different reviews, if the NDP forms government.

“I give [the NDP] full credit for going this far and for acknowledging there is an issue and that the public has concerns,” Kevin Washbrook, director for VTACC, told Business in Vancouver.

Other port expansions, in North Vancouver and in Prince Rupert, would be for exporting metallurgical coal, used in steel making.

The Surrey proposal has the public up in arms because the coal – four million tonnes annually – would be used to fire power plants in Asia.

The new terminal would move coal from the U.S. by rail car onto barges, which would then take the coal to a bulk storage facility on Texada Island and then transferred to ships destined for Asia.

Provincial governments have no jurisdiction over ports – a federal mandate – so it’s questionable the province has much power to stop the expansion, if that’s what a review recommends.

However, Washbrook said a provincial review may be the only chance for the public to have its say, given that Port Metro Vancouver appears unwilling to hold a full public hearing on the expansion.

“If the port won’t hold proper public hearings, then the province should do it itself,” he said.

Port Metro Vancouver plans to hold two open houses on the expansion project but has not confirmed dates.

By Nelson Bennett