Is B.C. becoming a banana republic? Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan certainly thinks so.
The fiery politician made the comments at a Jan. 13 meeting in which Burnaby city council unanimously voted to oppose the expansion of coal facilities at Fraser Surrey Docks (FSD) and North Vancouver's Neptune Terminals.
The mayor targeted Port Metro Vancouver's environmental assessment of the expansions at Fraser Surrey Docks and questioned whether it can be considered independent.
"The majority of directors on Port Metro Vancouver are appointed by companies that stand to economically benefit from these decisions," Corrigan said.
"So here you've got a board of directors, appointed by the companies, that is in charge of the environmental assessment to determine whether they are going to make more money."
Corrigan's comments were captured in a video that was the second most popular item on Vancouver's Reddit on Monday morning.
The port is reviewing FSD's application to develop a Direct Transfer Coal Facility that would handle up to four million tonnes of the substance. The port has already issued a project permit that will allow Neptune Terminals to expand its coal handling capacity.
FSD hired SNC Lavalin, a controversial engineering company, to complete an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) that said coal expansion would be unlikely to have adverse environmental or health effects.
Corrigan took particular issue with the hiring of SNC Lavalin, a company that he said has "done more to bring Canadian engineering into disrepute than any company has ever had the misfortune to do in the history of Canada."
"This is one of the few Canadian companies that could attain the high goal of being banned for 10 years by the World Bank," he said.
Corrigan completed his rant saying, "If this company has been banned by the World Bank, why the heck are they doing environmental assessments in our backyard?"
UPDATE - Jan. 31, 2014: Port Metro Vancouver issued a statement Thursday in response to Corrigan's comments. It denied that its board of directors will financially benefit from FSD approval because it does not make permit decisions and has to abide by a code of conduct. It also pointed out that the project, and not the board, hired SNC Lavalin.
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