By R. Bruce Striegler

With container traffic continuing to grow globally, Sheri Plewes, Port Metro Vancouver’s Vice-President, Infrastructure Delivery, is confident that the Port can handle the growth. “The Container Capacity Im­provement Program is our ­long-term strategy to deliver projects to meet anticipated growth in container demand until 2030. We have looked at capacity improvements that can be made to existing terminals and infrastructure, as well as what new infrastructure may be required, and what capacity enhancements are already taking place at other Canadian West Coast ports.”

Container traffic through Canada’s Pacific Gateway is expected to double over the next ten to fifteen years and nearly triple by 2030. Current projections indicate approximately four million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) of additional capacity will be needed to meet West Coast container demand by 2030. Currently, the port can handle 3.5 million TEUs annually and Plewes points to steps already being taken to improve capacity. “We have continued to maximize capacity at existing locations. Several examples include Deltaport’s third berth completed in 2010 and the earlier expansions of Vanterm and Centerm container terminals.”

Deltaport, Road and Rail Improvement Project

Through continuous monitoring and studying of container traffic worldwide, Port Metro Vancouver has been able to anticipate the need for additional capacity in the Lower Mainland. A series of improvements to the area have been planned by way of the Deltaport Terminal, Road and Rail Improvement Project (DTRRIP). Port Metro Vancouver is working with the Province of B.C. and Deltaport’s terminal operator, TSI Terminal Systems Inc., to upgrade existing infrastructure at Roberts Bank and increase Deltaport’s container capacity by 600,000 TEUs for a total of 2.4 million TEUs by 2015.

“DTRRIP is an efficient and cost-effective plan to increase container capacity through improvements to existing port infrastructure,” says Plewes. She emphasizes that the improvements are mostly within the existing footprint and would have low environmental impacts with no work in the waters around Deltaport. “The project will provide more efficient flows of rail and truck traffic to and from Deltaport. The improvements will reduce congestion, wait times, emissions, noise and traffic, while increasing capacity.”

Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project

Plewes further explains that, “After reviewing other potential capacity improvement opportunities, developing a second container terminal at Roberts Banks was the next best solution.” The proposed terminal could supply additional container capacity of more than two million TEUs. Although the full scope, scale and preferred location are still being studied, the proposal includes multiple berths with ship-to-shore cranes able to handle the newest generation of container ships.

As part of the planning stage, Port Metro Vancouver is currently undergoing extensive environmental field studies. In August, environmental personnel collected baseline information about a wide range of topics including water and sediment, marine mammals and other aquatic life, as well as birds and marine vegetation.

The Port is also undertaking comprehensive community and stakeholder consultations, a process which began in June 2011. Plewes explains that when the preliminary planning is complete, formal plans will be developed and submitted for a harmonized federal and provincial environmental review. “With initiatives such as the proposed Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project, Port Metro Vancouver remains well-positioned to take advantage of the global trade opportunities for Lower Mainland, British Columbia and Canada.”