Port Metro Vancouver plans major expansion at Burrard Inlet facility

Dec 19 2017, 8:14 pm

A major expansion of the region’s port facilities is planned for the existing port facility just east of the downtown Vancouver peninsula on the south shore of Burrard Inlet.

Port Metro Vancouver is planning a $320-million expansion of its Centerm container terminal, increasing capacity by 66 per cent – from 900,000 TEUs to 1.5 million TEUs. The terminal footprint will grow seven acres westward, through a larger wharf structure and earth fill enclosed by rock dykes, to create a larger and reconfigured container yard and intermodal yard.

The recent decision to consolidate all of Port Metro’s cruise operations at Canada Place will allow for the reconfiguration of the Ballantyne Pier area on the eastern end of Centerm. The pier will be rehabilitated with rock dykes and earth fill and repurposed for additional container storage, parking, and a new administrative building.

Other improvements in the plans will improve the associated infrastructure that supports the container terminal’s operations, including an expansion of the railyard with the construction of a fifth rail track, an additional quay crane, modernized truck gate systems, an extension of Waterfront Road, and a new overpass.

According to Port Metro, with container trade volumes growing by between four to five per cent annually, the project is necessary to meet the anticipated continued growth. Port Metro Vancouver is, of course, Canada’s largest port and handles much of the nation’s trade volumes.

“We handle about one in every $5.00 of Canada’s trade in goods, either imports or exports moving through the port,” Cliff Stewart, the Vice President of Infrastructure at Port Metro Vancouver, told Vancity Buzz. “And this trade is increasing. Between the end of the last decade and the middle of this decade, we went from about 100 to 140 million tonnes. By the early part of next decade, we will be up by as much as another 40 million tonnes.”

“That is cargo, the movement of which is decided by Canada’s importers or exporters – depending on the type of cargo.”

Diagram of the preliminary plans for the Centerm terminal expansion

Image: Port Metro Vancouver

Image: Port Metro Vancouver

Stewart says the Centerm project is among a series of port expansion projects on the B.C. Coast to meet short-term capacity needs by the end of the 2030s. An ongoing project will increase Deltaport’s capacity by about 600,000 TEUs – to a total capacity of 2.4 million TEUs when complete in 2017.

Another project in Prince Rupert will increase capacity by 500,000 TEUS by 2018, ahead of a larger expansion planned for the early 2020s.

“This is designed to ensure that the container capacity is there to meet the growing demand, preferably on a just-in-time basis,” Stewart continued. “That will have pretty much fully used up the ability to expand the existing terminals on the West Coast.”

“As the port authority, our mandate is to ensure that the national trade objectives are met. And one of those trade objectives is to ensure trade is able to flow. That is an important part of what we are here to do. ”

In 2014, B.C. ports handled 3.5 million TEUs, with Port Metro Vancouver facilities seeing 2.9 million TEUs of the total volumes. By 2025, forecasts indicate B.C. port traffic will grow to 6 million TEUs by 2025 and 7 million TEUs by 2030.

Much of Port Metro Vancouver’s capacity increase over the near-term depends on the construction of the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 project. Without it, forecasts indicate there could be a B.C. coast capacity shortfall of as much as 1.3 million TEUs by 2030.

Some capacity will also be lost from the Fraser Surrey docks terminal becoming obsolete as a container terminal before the end of the decade. Ships are getting bigger, to the extent they will soon have difficulty getting up the Fraser River and turning around.

The Centerm expansion project is a partnership between Port Metro and DP World Vancouver, the local subsidiary of DP World that operates Centerm and 70 other terminals in 31 countries. Under a partnership with Port Metro, the Dubai-based company has operated the Vancouver facility since 2006.

Port Metro will fund the project’s construction costs and recover its investment through a revised lease-fee agreement with DP World Vancouver. If approved by Fisheries and Oceans Canada after Port Metro’s own review process, construction on the project could begin in early 2017 and be complete in late 2019.

Centerm currently handles about 20 per cent of the region’s port container traffic.