Minister Lawrence Cannon
RE: Lafarge Canada Inc.
I am writing to bring your attention to a recent Supreme Court of Canada's decision that allows Lafarge Canada Inc. to proceed with a proposal to develop a controversial concrete batch plant on land owned by the Port of Vancouver, in my riding of Vancouver East.
Although the court has ruled, the decision does not abrogate the responsibility of Transport Canada to respect the needs of residents in the adjacent Burrardview neighbourhood. Given that this is the only location in Vancouver where residents live next to an industrial port - which happens to be Canada's largest and busiest - I believe that a constructive and compatible co-existence must be achieved between the industrial uses of the Port lands and the quality of life of neighbouring residents.
Major concerns with this type of development include, but are not limited to, the multiple problems created by traffic, noise, dust, view obstruction and damage to the environment. To develop a concrete batch plant with its attendant nuisances - and potential harm - so close to a residential area would be misguided at best, and devastating at worst.
To mitigate any problems, I request that your department develop a process to respond to the broader concerns of the neighbourhood. With such a process in place, expectations are articulated and mutually beneficially goals are identified. As a result, many problems associated with development can be avoided.
To this end, I wish to bring to your attention that the City of Vancouver recently approved of the East Vancouver Port Lands Plan, whereby the City, Vancouver Port Authority, port industries, and residents will work collaboratively to create a plan that balances all interests, and resolves issues. I believe that Transport Canada has a crucial role to play in this plan, and can possibly create legislative resolutions in the event of seemingly intractable problems.
Like many neighbourhoods on Vancouver's east side, the neighbourhood next to the site has its share of challenges, not least of which is maintaining a strong sense of community in the middle of a big city, in a poor area, next to Canada's largest and busiest port. But the residents have persevered and made their urban corner of Vancouver a neighbourhood and a home.
But a fragile balance exists between the needs of industry and those of the community. The two can co-exist, but cities throughout Canada and the rest of North America are littered with tragic examples of what happens when the balance is tipped and communities are overwhelmed.
In closing, I reiterate that although the court has spoken in favour of Lafarge, the needs of the residents are not a lesser priority. The Department of Transport still has a responsibility to residents to ensure that their quality of life is not compromised by industrial development. In short, I urge the Department to not violate its public mandate.
Libby Davies, MP
cc. Captain Gordon Houston, President & CEO, Vancouver Port Authority