Port Metro Vancouver has completed a second phase of consultation as it devises a plan to identify future land needs and how those sites should best be utilized.
The port authority says that over the past several months it has spoken with hundreds of individuals representing customers, all levels of government, First Nations, industry and community associations, environmental organizations, rail companies and members of the public.
From those comments, it has gathered information that helped identify top priorities and concerns.
The port authority says in addition to its consultation activities, it examined the plans of other ports around the world to make sure the plan here, to be finalized later this year, is developed using best practice and supports its "vision to grow in an environmentally, economically and socially responsible manner."
The next step is to write the plan, which will include detailed policies and land use designation maps, before beginning another round of consultation.
The port authority's land use update comes at a time when concern has been heightened over the future of Delta's farmland, and whether much of it could be converted to industrial uses to service port growth.
Last year, Delta South MLA Vicki Huntington revealed that an industrial consortium is behind the optioning of 226 hectares (558 acres) in the Agricultural Land Reserve. She uncovered $98 million in options on land located near Deltaport Way.
Huntington noted the Emerson Real Estate Group has an industrial proposal developed with CN, CP, Western Stevedoring and international port consultant Carrix. It features a 12,000-foot intermodel rail yard adjacent to Deltaport Way, which may also be widened, while existing farmland between Highway 17 and the intermodel rail yard would be converted to warehouse distribution.
She said the land has some of the best agricultural soil in Canada and represents a critically productive mass in Delta.
In a recent constituency newsletter, Huntington noted that at a Vancouver Real Estate Board forum earlier this year, in joint presentation with Ron Emerson, Tom Corsie, vice-president of real estate for the port authority, assured industrial interests the port was "immune" to provincial law and can circumvent the ALR.
Agriculture Minister Don McRae issued a statement noting the optioning deal is a private business transaction between a developer and farmers with no provincial involvement.
Richmond councillor and farmland advocate Harold Steves said it's clear the port has declared war on the ALR.
"The port claims that they have lost several thousand acres of industrial land in the region. To set the record straight, all of the industrial land they 'lost' in Richmond was farmland in the first place."
Metro Vancouver's regional planning committee recently endorsed a resolution calling on federal Transportation Minister Denis Lebel to tell the port not to proceed with non-agricultural uses on port-controlled properties in the ALR.
The port authority recently unveiled a preliminary design for Terminal 2, a three-berth container port proposed adjacent to the existing Deltaport container terminal. A separate round of consultations has begun on that project.
PUBLIC FORUM TOMORROW
A new community group, Citizens Against Port Expansion (CAPE), is hosting a public meeting tomorrow to discuss the proposed expansion at Roberts Bank.
The meeting will run from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Sundance Inn, 6574 Ladner Trunk Rd.
CAPE members attend three Christian churches in South Delta - All Saints Anglican, Benediction Lutheran and Ladner United. They say they are strongly motivated by responsible stewardship of the farmland and ecosystem surrounding South Delta.