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Time for Port Reform

Time for Port Reform: Let's take back our ports if you are cornered about the environment and coastal waters. OUR VIEW: Time for Marc Garneau to check in
Justice was done last month when a Supreme Court judge ruled against Port Metro Vancouver and Fraser Surrey Docks in the ongoing wrangling over its coal facility proposal.
The crown corporation was trying to quash an application for a judicial review of the permit approval process for a coal facility at Fraser Surrey Docks.
A citizens’ group is arguing that the permit approval process for the coal plan is biased and fails to take into account important elements. They’re not the only ones saying this. The City of New Westminster also jumped aboard in support of the court challenge.
The contentious plan would see coal transported by rail to the facility, across from New Westminster, and then shipped out on tankers.
During the public input process for the coal facility everyone from the Fraser Health Authority to folks who live across from the proposed facility expressed serious concerns. Concerns the Port has still not adequately addressed.
But Port Metro Vancouver is a Crown corporation that seems to be a fiefdom unto its own. It is accountable to the federal Minister of Transport and owes no allegiance to the communities it operates in. When the Conservatives were in power, the Conservative appointee Minister of Transport, Lisa Raitt, was clearly behind almost any project which could bring more bucks into the Port’s pockets. The fact that coal is facing a rapidly diminishing market, and even the U.S. is not allowing any more coal licences on federal lands, might make any reasonable person question the plan to build a new coal facility. But apparently that hasn’t fazed the Port.
With the Port’s last attempt to have the citizens’ case dismissed in court, it has shown that it is still intent on ramming through this project at any cost.
This is wrong on so many levels: Firstly – it’s just a stupid plan, secondly, even though the Port has its own flush bank account, the fact is that its bank account is actually part of the federal government, and – ergo – owned by the taxpayers of Canada. So, we have a crown corporation using taxpayer funds to fight taxpayers who are trying to have a say in what is happening in their communities. Not good.
On the bright side, the new Liberal Minister of Transport is Marc Garneau. We know he’s got his hands full with lots of stuff, but we’re hoping that Port Metro Vancouver is on his to-do list, and he turns this ship around real soon.