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Ashcroft Terminal could ease port’s big farmland appetite

Ashcroft Terminal could ease port’s big farmland appetite

Originally published in the Richmond News.

Supporting an Interior rail container terminal could ease truck traffic in Metro Vancouver and help mitigate the desire to develop the region’s limited farmland for industrial purposes.

That’s what Bob Landucci, president and CEO of the recently expanded Ashcroft Terminal, contended in a presentation to Richmond city councillors Monday evening.

Richmond has voiced concerns over Port Metro Vancouver’s lack of public oversight and recent omission of any promise to spare 100 hectares of farmland in east Richmond over the long term.

“We see what’s happening with the port as ultimately encroaching on agricultural land. And, also, there’s the transportation aspect. In part, they’re building a multi-million dollar bridge for (truck traffic),” stated Mayor Malcolm Brodie.

Councillors invited Landucci to Richmond to explain the logic behind the Ashcroft Terminal.

He noted that with the proposed expansion of Roberts Bank Terminal, it’s logical to send containers destined for Alberta and beyond to Ashcroft for re-sorting and re-loading.

Landucci’s site was recently expanded to include 1,500 metres of railcar storage, among many upgrades, at a cost of $7.2 million. Half of the money came from federal government contributions.

By sorting goods heading east and raw materials heading west, the terminal would ease congestion and reduce land demand for PMV.

“Some of these flows we can simplify,” said Landucci.

PMV claims 70 per cent of inbound containers are already shipped out by rail. Another 20 per cent are sent on trucks to local sorters. Five per cent remain in the region.

But Landucci told councillors that in one instance, about two years ago, Duncan Wilson, the port’s vice-president of corporate social responsibility, stated the port was not interested in working with Ashcroft Terminal.

“This (terminal) can be for Metro Vancouver what Prince George is for Prince Rupert,” explained Landucci.

Also at issue is if the Roberts Bank terminal is doubled in size, PMV does not want the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency to consider the impact of road and rail traffic and pollution outside of its real property line.

The City of Richmond had already decided to write a letter of support to the Corporation of Delta in opposing the port’s stance.

Delta Mayor Lois Jackson said her “number one concern” for Delta was traffic and she wanted “inland ports,” such as Ashcroft, to be considered as an option to Roberts Bank Terminal II, which would see annual container capacity double from 2.4 to 4.8 million containers per year.