B.C. ag industry seeking gov’t intervention

B.C. ag industry seeking gov’t intervention
Nov 20, 2020

The Port of Vancouver hasn’t extended West Coast Reduction’s lease

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

Members of British Columbia’s agriculture sector are asking the federal government to step in to help resolve an issue at the Port of Vancouver.

The Sustainable Food Alliance of BC, which represents dairy, livestock and cash crop producers and processors, wants the federal ministers of agriculture (Marie-Claude Bibeau), transportation (Marc Garneau) and environment (Jonathan Wilkinson) to help West Coast Reduction continue to operate at the port.

“The intention is to try to have them intervene and somehow get this on top of mind with the board at the Port that this is a significant policy about the responsibilities of the ports, which are there to service the economy of the country,” Ken Ingram, executive director of the Sustainable Food Alliance of BC, told Farms.com. “The food system seems to be taking a backseat to containers on the port.”

West Coast Reduction recycles about 1 billion pounds of meat biproducts from fish, poultry, pork and beef annually. These biproducts go into ingredients for feed mills or are used to make biofuels.

The company’s facility sits on 6.26 acres of leased land at the port.

West Coast Reduction’s lease with the Port of Vancouver expires in 2026 and efforts to renew the lease have been unsuccessful. A conditional extension has been put in place until 2030, but the parameters of those conditions are unacceptable, Ingram said.

“They don’t give any certainty and therefore any ability to invest in the local food system on the site,” he said. “Companies like these often need long runways to be able to invest and know they can get their returns. The (Vancouver Port Authority) should notice and realize there’s serious implications about what happens in this case.”

Without a secured lease agreement for the future, the Port could tell West Coast Reduction in 2024 that they’re out of the port’s vision in 2026. A situation like this would cost millions of dollars, Ingram said.

“It’s a facility that would cost about $250 million to replace,” he said. “To replace that facility would take years, so timelines are extremely tight.”

Ag industry representatives have written to the port and copied the federal ministers. The food alliance has letter templates posted on its website.

The board of directors at the Port of Vancouver is made up in part of federally appointed members.

Though the federal government had input on who sits on the board, the Port ultimately operates independently, said Jean-Sebastien Comeau, press secretary for Minister Bibeau.

“Every port in the country operates as an independent Crown corporation,” he told Farms.com. “At the end of the day it’s a decision that is (the board’s) to make.”

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