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Report fires up coal terminal opponents
New Westminster residents opposed to a proposed coal export terminal at Fraser Surrey Docks say they're not surprised an environmental impact assessment ordered by Port Metro Vancouver has given the project its blessing.
But, they say, their fight to stop construction of the terminal is far from over.
Andrew Murray, of the New Westminster Environmental Partners, said his group and others like Communities and Coal have made headway getting local governments to speak out against the project. Councils in New West, Surrey, White Rock, Langley and Vancouver have all passed motions opposing the expansion of coal exports or to call for public hearings and independent reviews.
"Opposition continues to grow," said Murray.
The chair of the city's environmental committee, Coun. Jaimie McEvoy, said the environmental assessment released by Port Metro Vancouver on Monday raises more questions than it answers.
"When I don't get straightforward answers, it causes me concern," said McEvoy. "They've given me no reason to have confidence in them."
Quayside resident James Crosty said the prospect of coal dust from the terminal wafting over the Fraser River has him considering his choice of residence.
"I am concerned," said Crosty, who's been a vocal critic of the project. "Fraser Surrey Docks is a neighbour, we see it every day, we see the grain dust. Show us you can load that without any dust before you even consider loading coal."
With the release of the report, which was produced by SNC-Lavalin, the public now has until Dec. 17 to submit written comments.
Those responses won't be published. Port Metro Vancouver will summarize them, something which rankles Murray.
"Port Metro Vancouver needs to open up and tell us what the end game is here," he said. "It's just a controlled strategy to give the impression they've done everything they can."
The lack of transparency, added McEvoy, "rigs the game. We want a more thorough opportunity for people who have questions to have them answered."
He vowed New West council will keep up the pressure against the project through Metro Vancouver, the medical health office and even higher levels of government.
"I think the city has to be vocal," said McEvoy.
Murray also said it's time for senior levels of government to get involved.
"I think politically we need to get this issue into Ottawa," said Murray.
Meantime, Crosty said he plans to express his frustration in his submission to Port Metro Vancouver, even though he doubts it will do much good.
"We face these done-deal things all the time," said Crosty. "But you have to get the public educated and they get active. This is a force that can bind people together."