The move has been tagged as “largely symbolic” because there are no existing coal facilities within its boundaries and the council has no jurisdiction over Port Metro Vancouver, which has proposed the controversial expansion of Fraser Surrey coal export terminal.
The Fraser Surrey expansion would increase the port’s capacity for exporting coal to 4 million tons per annum initially, later doubling to 8Mtpa.
PMV is North America’s largest export port by tonnage and trades $75 billion in goods annually.
“The proposed amendment would not apply to federal Crown lands or lands governed by Port Metro Vancouver, which are outside the legal jurisdiction of the city in the area of land use regulation,” a staff report on the proposal said.
“The proposed amendment would prohibit the handling, storage, and trans-shipment of coal as part of a marine terminal or berth-use on lands within the jurisdiction of the city.
“The impact would be to reduce the handling of coal and the transportation of coal to such lands.”
The council voted nine to two for the zoning and development bylaw amendment that the report said was in line with the greenest city 2020 plan, designed to curb greenhouse gas emissions and set Vancouver’s air quality target to “breathe the cleanest air of any major city in the world”.
According to The Vancouver Sun, staff said the motion to ban any future shipments of coal was to prevent any future developments, allegedly driven by current industry enquiry into the possibility of terminal development on private lands.
Conservative MP David Wilks of Kootenay-Columbia has been vocally opposed to the amendment, speaking forcefully at the Tuesday meeting and writing on his Twitter page: “Without metallurgical coal, no cars, bikes, stoves, fridges and no wind turbines or solar panels. Face it we need carbon.”
As PMV’s expansion proposal goes through an approvals period, the port has been criticized for not completing thorough environmental assessments and not conducting adequate community consultation meetings.
The proposal is part of a current North American drive to export coal railed from Wyoming and Montana to Asian markets. Three terminals proposed in the US northwest are being reviewed.
Three other projects have already been abandoned, which together represented up to $550 million in investment.
All of the proposed projects have received considerable opposition from environmental groups and local residents who hold concerns about coal dust, congestion and climate change.