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Salish Sea, emerging issues, Roberts Bank Terminal 2, RBT2, Trans Mountain Pipeline, Cherry Point, Gateway Pacific Terminal, mega-projects, Indigenous communities


In the Salish Sea, one of the major ports for today’s ships is Roberts Bank Superport, named for Henry Roberts (Vancouver’s predecessor), run by the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, and located just north of the Canada-US border. In 2023, the Government of Canada and the Province of BC approved the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 (RBT2) project which will expand the port by building a second artificial island, adding three berths to accommodate increased capacity for container cargo.

Two court cases this year will challenge the Government of Canada RBT2 approval. One, issued by Ecojustice in alliance with several environmental organizations, will challenge that the expansion fails to comply with the Species At Risk Act. The other, issued by the Lummi Nation, will challenge Canada’s assessment process for failing in its duty to consult affected Indigenous communities.

In this paper, we examine RBT2 in the context of other mega-project proposals affecting Salish Sea waters in Canada and the United States. We find that current federal environmental assessment, Indigenous consultation, and decision-making processes neither meaningfully consider Indigenous nationhood, nor address cumulative ecological impacts of industrial economic development in our bioregion. The Lummi Nation’s emerging court case, however, has the potential to be transformative in challenging these limitations. By creatively challenging settler-state law and transgressing the Canada-US border, the case opens different futures for the Salish Sea.


Salish Sea Institute




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