The creation of new off-site empty container storage capacity will provide Metro Vancouver’s strained port facilities with much-needed relief, and help restore the shipping supply chain network.
Vancouver Fraser Port Authority says it has opened the first phase of a new 40-acre container storage facility in South Richmond, within an undeveloped parcel of federal port land at the foot of No. 8 Road on Portside Road.
In November 2021, after extreme weather events cut off British Columbia’s road and railway corridors to the rest of Canada, the federal government announced it would provide $4.1 million to Vancouver Fraser Port Authority to create temporary storage capacity for empty containers. The extensive washouts to mountain highways and railways exacerbated major supply-chain challenges that already existed due to the pandemic.
The storage facility’s remaining two phases will reach completion by early March 2022. Upon full completion, the storage area is expected to remain operational until July 2022.
The port authority selected Coast2000 Terminals and Euro Asia to operate the facility, which are intermodal service companies that are current port tenants within the Fraser Richmond Industrial Lands. In the future, this vacant site will be used for a permanent port terminal development.
“As partners throughout the Port of Vancouver continue work to clear supply-chain backlogs in the wake of November’s flooding, this new container storage site adds valuable capacity to support activities at Canada’s largest port, which in turn supports local and national supply chains,” said Robin Silvester, president and CEO of the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, in a statement.
“Thanks to funding support and a quick response from the Government of Canada, coupled with remarkable efforts by the project team, this region and Canada’s supply chains are already benefiting from needed additional container-storage capacity. I would like to thank all the project partners, stakeholders and teams who have worked tirelessly to advance this site so swiftly, to deliver increased supply-chain capacity and resiliency at a pivotal time for the region and the country.”
The Port of Vancouver is Canada’s largest port, with much of the country’s trade flowing through the various Metro Vancouver port facilities.
Over the past year and a half, as a result of the pandemic, port facilities across the West Coast of North America have faced immense congestion issues from the flood in pandemic-driven consumer demand, and labour shortages with port staff and truck drivers.
Shipping containers from Asian manufacturing hubs are full when they are making their journey to North America, and both full and empty containers are stacking up at ports, which greatly hinder efficiency.
Costs for shipping have escalated exponentially due to not only high demand, but also the result of shipping companies sending their containers back to Asia empty, given the severe shortage of containers in Asia for exports and to avoid further congestion at North American ports.
But the empty containers are not being shipped back to Asia quick enough, so temporary off-site empty container storage facilities like the one in South Richmond enable ports to better catch up with the demand surge.
In October 2021, the City of Long Beach in the Los Angeles region enacted a temporary emergency policy allowing off-site container yards and warehouses to place up to four containers in a stack instead of the two normally allowed. Up to five containers were also allowed through a further approval process. This policy was implemented to free up space at the congested ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.
Years earlier, before the pandemic, there was a global glut in shipping containers, and it helped enable the growth of modular building construction. But builders are now challenged by the shortage and high cost of using these containers for their structures.