If new container terminal capacity is needed – at what cost?



Re: Numbers show need for Delta expansion, says port (Optimist, Sept. 25)

In fact, the numbers used to justify Port of Vancouver’s proposed Roberts Bank Terminal 2 (RBT2) expansion project have been wrong since 2010 and are wrong again.

In 2020, British Columbia container terminals had excess, unused capacity of more than 1.3 million TEUs (20-foot equivalent units). This means 2020 container volumes could have been 28 per cent higher without causing a capacity issue – more than enough to cover the 15 per cent growth above the previous record set in 2019 cited by the Port Authority.

Yes, in the first half of 2021, container volumes are up compared to 2020 and previous years. However, months of pandemic lockdowns shifted consumer spending patterns, and periodic lockdowns continue to impact shipping, manufacturing, and ports worldwide. These unique factors are creating unusual market conditions and unprecedented volume surges at many North American ports.

According to the Port’s own data, Vancouver has handled the surges well compared to other ports on the West Coast. That is because of incremental, smart, market-driven investments that have been made over the years. And, more work is already underway to increase B.C. container capacity at existing private-sector terminals by 1.3 million TEUs to 7.2 million TEUs by 2025.

Pinpointing the biggest roadblock to improving container cargo movement in the Port of Vancouver is a $3.5 billion-dollar question. That’s the amount the Port wants approval to spend on RBT2. Imagine the road, public transit and infrastructure improvements that could be made to support mobility for people and goods with $3.5 billion tax dollars.

Global Container Terminals (GCT) has a stake in this. We agree that smart, market-driven capacity improvements should continue within the Port of Vancouver. We have a plan that delivers them, adding up to two million TEUs as they are needed, with our privately-funded Deltaport Berth 4 (DP4) project, an incremental expansion of the existing terminal footprint at GCT Deltaport that greatly minimizes environmental impacts compared to building an entirely new artificial island with RBT2.

If new capacity is needed, the question we should be asking is – at what cost?

This article originally titled Letters: If new capacity is needed – at what cost? written by Marko Dekovic was originally published in Delta Optimist.

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