The Port of Vancouver’s statements and materials around West Coast container capacity requirements continue to be misleading and unproductive for those looking to move their goods through Canadian ports.
Throughout the pandemic, the Pacific Gateway has done an exceptional job of handling surge volumes, thanks to incremental, smart, market-driven investments made by terminal operators over the years and the hard work of the essential supply chain workers.
For over a decade, the Port of Vancouver has been way off with its forecasts for container volume growth. A trend that started well before the pandemic and has continued over the past few years.
As shown in the video, the Port has continued to leverage this incorrect data to push through its Roberts Bank Terminal 2 (RBT2) expansion on the basis of capacity problems that are always just around the corner. But, we have turned many corners since and those terminal capacity issues, even during the pandemic, have not materialized.
In 2019, a study by Black Quay Consulting concluded that additional West Coast container terminal capacity would not be needed until the mid or late 2030s at the earliest.
There are over a million TEUs of excess capacity on the West Coast of Canada right now, even without the additional 1.2M TEU now under construction which will be online in the next 3 years.
Container terminal capacity is NOT the issue. Fact. The VFPA’s own 2021 “Container Traffic Report” indicates a decrease in full container volumes by 1.8% in 2021 compared to 2020 and a massive increase in empty container exports. Also container ship traffic decreased by 9%, so why build more “parking spots, where there are less cars coming?”
What Canada does need are investments in off terminal infrastructure to provide resiliency to the supply chain. As we have witnessed these past two years, blockades, fires and floods can cut off our terminals, no matter how much capacity they have, from rail and trucking.
The Port of Vancouver’s RBT2 plan is a solution to a problem that does NOT exist.
Imagine the road, rail, public transit and other infrastructure improvements that could instead be made with the $3.5 billion required to build RBT2…
We humbly suggest that the Port of Vancouver (a government agency, landlord and regulator) reflect on their core mandate, and how they can truly help address supply chain challenges collaboratively with the industry.
Canadian institutional investors are assessing the market and are already planning smart, appropriate investments in terminal capacity here at GCT Deltaport with the Berth Four Project, and in Prince Rupert DP World Fairview terminal, that will provide additional capacity as it is needed to meet market demands.
Rather than squeezing out private sector investment, federal money should be used to address challenges with critical, common-user infrastructure inland that supports the resiliency of the entire Canadian supply chain across modes, not on the flawed and unnecessary RBT2, the most expensive (and publicly-funded) container capacity ever built.