Surrey coal terminal to get full public hearing

A FULL public hearing will be held by the provincial Metro Vancouver government about the Fraser Surrey coal export terminal expansion proposal.

Staff Reporter

Metro Vancouver’s board voted on Friday to open their doors to delegates during their June 14 meeting, where officials from Port Metro Vancouver and Fraser Surrey Docks will answer questions.

The final decision on the project sits with the Port Metro Vancouver, which has been accused by opponents to the development of not properly considering public opinion.

"I think it's ironic it's come down to regional government being the one who's trying to organize public hearings around this issue when the port authority is the public agency with the power to make the decisions," Voters Taking Action on Climate Change spokesman Kevin Washbrook told the Surrey Leader.

He said the port was abdicating its regulatory role by not organizing hearings itself, adding it should still do so.

The controversial expansion at Fraser Surrey Docks would increase the port’s capacity for exporting coal to 4 million tonnes per annum initially, later doubling to 8Mtpa.

PMV is North America’s largest export port by tonnage and trades $75 billion in goods annually.

Cities and even the regional district have no jurisdiction over the terminal, apart from an air emissions permit Metro would be expected to issue.

Metro's environment committee has already debated the issue and its resolution to oppose increased coal shipments – deferred on Friday – would be voted on by the full board after the delegations are heard, the Surrey Leader reported.

Surrey Board of Trade chief executive officer Anita Huberman told the Surrey Leader that the business organisation was in favour of the port.

"We have to stop saying 'No' to everything and that's what I think is happening sometimes in South Surrey," she said.

"Yes the environment is important… The economic argument for us is the winner."

Huberman said she "absolutely" wanted Surrey's mayor and council, which had so far stayed on the fence, to take a firm stand in favour of the coal terminal.

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 currently 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.

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