Let’s reserve public money for advancing our urgent public priorities


The recent flooding in B.C. is devastating for all of us. Our thoughts are with the families and businesses that are struggling to recover from losses, and deal with the aftermath.

In the container terminal business, this situation has brought us face to face with the urgency of resiliency upgrades to Canada’s Pacific Gateway. Yet, despite suggestions by the Port of Vancouver to the contrary, West Coast marine container terminal capacity has not been a factor in recent well-publicized supply chain shortages and delays.

These have been driven by the global pandemic and its accompanying challenges in manufacturing, trucking and raw materials supply and inland storage and distribution. They’ve been exacerbated by rail blockades, the massive container ship blocking the Suez Canal, the wildfires, and, yes, the flooding. But marine terminal container capacity on Canada’s West Coast has not been a factor.

Indeed, throughout the pandemic, B.C.’s container terminals have been a bright spot, handling the surge volumes and keeping goods flowing North of the border, thanks to incremental, smart, market-driven investments made over the years and the hard work of the essential supply chain workers. 

So, thankfully, today there is no shortage of marine container terminal space. What of tomorrow? Work is already underway on two projects (incremental, smart, market-driven) at existing private-sector terminals in both Prince Rupert and Vancouver to increase B.C. container capacity by 1.3 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) to 7.2 million TEUs by 2025. More than sufficient based on current projections.

Moreover, while Canada’s West Coast may eventually need additional container terminal capacity, beyond what is already planned, there is a private sector answer to that too: GCT Global Container Terminals, the operator at Deltaport, is proposing another incremental, smart, market-driven expansion that would add up to 2 million TEUs of West Coast container capacity as it is needed with the privately-funded, environmentally conscious Deltaport Berth 4 (DP4) project. Sensible.

So why would the Port of Vancouver be putting forward a massive, publicly funded, environmentally devastating project instead? This is not hyperbole: Environment and Climate Change Canada has concluded that the damage from building the Port’s Roberts Bank Terminal 2, a massive, artificial island in the ecologically sensitive Salish Sea, will be “permanent, irreversible and continuous.”

The Port should be stepping back and allowing the private-sector to handle this private-sector matter. Instead, they are jumping in to compete with their tenant and spending public money (to the tune of some $2,000,000/month as noted in their CEO’s recent speech) advancing their own flawed $3.5 billion project – the most expensive container capacity ever built.

Surely, this public money would be better spent on upgrading Canada’s Pacific Gateway with projects that make it (and the supply chain) more resilient and sustainable in the face of climate change. Imagine the road, rail, public transit and other infrastructure improvements that could be made with $3.5 billion…

Marko Dekovic
Vice President Public Affairs
GCT Global Container Terminals Inc.

Watch: GCT Deltaport Berth 4: a smart port expansion for BC and Canada