Robust investment in gateway and terminal infrastructure signals confidence in the Port of Vancouver
Ongoing infrastructure investment and delivery is critical to maintaining fluidity and growing capacity in the Asia-Pacific gateway. Despite recent and ongoing disruptions to global trade, long-term growth in import and export cargo volumes are expected at the Port of Vancouver. Mandated to facilitate Canada’s trade, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority is committed to collaborative leadership with customers and stakeholders on the sustained investment in, and delivery of, trade-enabling infrastructure.
Delivery of gateway infrastructure provides a solid foundation for investment in cargo handling terminals and facilities at the port. This strategy continues at the Port of Vancouver, with numerous expansions and new builds being either planned, underway or recently completed, in various business sectors.
Along with industry and government partners across the Lower Mainland, the port authority is leading the development of more than $1 billion of infrastructure projects that will further strengthen the port’s competitiveness. Industry and various levels of government, as well as the port authority, have contributed funding to these projects. While the COVID-19 global pandemic has created new challenges for the delivery of gateway infrastructure projects, the organization is navigating these new challenges and continuing with strong momentum on these vital projects.
In 2018 and 2019, the port authority received commitments for more than $300 million in funding from the Government of Canada through the National Trade Corridors Fund (NTCF) to progress multiple infrastructure projects throughout the Lower Mainland.
These projects were identified through a collaborative planning process that involved the port authority, TransLink, the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, the Greater Vancouver Gateway Council, and Transport Canada. The port authority is working with partners on projects that will ensure efficient road and rail networks in the region, and address the impacts of increased trade, including on safety, congestion, community access and general livability.
Significant progress has been made on several of the projects that received NTCF funding.
The South Shore Access Project is a series of road improvements located in Vancouver, along the South Shore of the Burrard Inlet that will support increased traffic to Centerm container terminal once the Centerm Expansion Project is complete. Valued at $78.3 million, these road improvements received funding though the NTCF and from the port authority. Construction is ongoing and completion is expected by 2022.
For the Commissioner Street Road and Rail Improvements Project, located in Vancouver and Burnaby, the port authority is undertaking a roadwork project to improve port truck movements and traffic flows, improve access to terminal facilities for commercial traffic, enable safe and efficient access to port lands for employees and service providers and provide land for rail track expansion. CP Rail is a project partner for rail components of the project. This project supports the capacity needed to move goods on the south shore of the Burrard Inlet. The project received funding in 2019 through the NTCF, the port authority and CP. The project is valued at $94 million, and completion of all project components is expected by early-2024.
The Pitt Meadows Road and Rail Improvements Project project will separate road traffic from trains at two key crossings—Harris Road and Kennedy Road—helping improve public safety, emergency response times, and commute times, while reducing congestion and greenhouse gas emissions related to idling vehicles. Over the last year, the port authority has been working closely with the City of Pitt Meadows and CP to progress the project. The project is expected to be complete by 2024. This project, valued at $141.1 million, is funded through the NTCF, port authority, and CP.
The sustained investment in trade-enabling infrastructure continues to set the foundation for ongoing investment in terminal and other cargo handling facilities throughout the Port of Vancouver. These investments, which are needed to provide capacity for an expected increase in growth over the long-term, are being made in a variety of sectors.
In the container sector, major initiatives continue to advance, as the port authority works to create new terminal capacity to address the steady increase in demand for containerized cargo.
Significant progress on the construction on the Centerm Expansion Project has been achieved this year. Centerm is an existing container terminal at the Port of Vancouver, operated by DP World Vancouver, on the south shore of Burrard Inlet. The project will increase container handling capacity by approximately two-thirds, from 900,000 TEUs to 1.5 million TEUs through a reconfiguration and expansion to the container terminal, as well as supporting road and rail improvements resulting from the South Shore Access Project. The result will be an increase of container handling capacity by 60%, requiring only a 15% increase of the terminal’s physical footprint. Construction began in July 2019 and is expected to be complete by 2022.
The Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project is a proposed 2.4 million TEU container terminal led by the port authority. The project recently completed a federal environmental assessment by an independent review panel, which submitted its environmental assessment report to the minister of environment and climate change Canada earlier this year. Now, the port authority is awaiting a decision from the minister as to whether the project can proceed. Pending approval from the federal government, receipt of other regulatory approvals and permits, market conditions and a final investment decision, construction would take approximately six years, making the much needed container capacity available by the late-2020s.
A number of major developments are also underway, or have been completed, in the bulk and breakbulk sectors.
Fraser Grain Terminal Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of Parrish and Heimbecker Ltd., has made major progress on its grain export facility adjacent to DP World Fraser Surrey. The new facility, with an annual terminal capacity of up to four MMT, will be used to ship bulk grain products including wheat, barley, oil seeds, pulses and other specialty crops. Work commenced at the project site in December 2018 and the target for completion is late-2020.
Work continues on Neptune Bulk Terminals (Canada) Ltd.’s $330 million in upgrades to its North Vancouver terminal facilities, which will increase annual throughput and improve coal handling operations, among other improvements. The equipment upgrades include a new coal train dumper building, a series of new conveyors, a replaced stacker-reclaimer and a replaced shiploader. Improvements also include upgrades to its water dust suppression system. The work is expected to be complete by Q2 – 2021.
Construction pertaining to Fibreco Export Inc.’s Fibreco Terminal Enhancement Project is progressing steadily. The project includes enhancements to the terminal’s current wood pellet operations, and the addition of new agri-export operations and removal of the woodchip exporting infrastructure. Works also include marine enhancements such as berth improvements, a new shiploader, dredging and demolition. Upland works associated with the project were completed in 2019, and completion of in-water works are expected in late-2020.
Global demand for Canadian agricultural products continues to foster significant private investment into bulk terminal facilities throughout the gateway, including the creation of G3 terminal, a new $550-million bulk grain terminal. The first new grain terminal at the Port of Vancouver since the 1960s, G3 terminal will have an estimated annual throughput of eight million metric tonnes (MMT). Construction was completed in July, 2020.
Progress is continuing on the Westridge Marine Terminal Upgrade and Expansion Project, a component of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project, which is led by terminal operator Trans Mountain Pipeline ULC. The project will allow the facility to handle an increased volume of various petroleum products. Construction began in 2019, and is scheduled to take approximately three-and-a-half years to complete.
Further, Pembina Pipeline Corp. acquired Vancouver Wharves, which is now operated by PKM Canada Marine Terminal LP. Located on the north shore of the Burrard Inlet, Vancouver Wharves is a 125-acre bulk terminal that has been in operation since 1959. Servicing the mining, energy and agricultural resource sectors, Vancouver Wharves handles over four million tonnes of dry bulk cargo, among other products.
Also located along the North Shore of the Burrard Inlet, where many terminal facilities are situated, the Mountain Highway Underpass Project is anticipated to begin in the fall of 2020. The Dominion Street realignment portion of the Mountain Highway Underpass Project concluded in 2019, the first of any port authority-led, NTCF-funded, project to be completed. The Mountain Highway Underpass Project will allow for increased import and export capacity and trade opportunities at Lynnterm Terminal, improve productivity and efficiency of the terminal, and enhance competitiveness at the Port of Vancouver.
Earlier this year, DP World acquired Fraser Surrey Docks. Under the new operating name, DP World Fraser Surrey, the multi-purpose marine terminal handles containers, as well as bulk, breakbulk and project cargo.
As progress is made on several gateway road and rail projects to support customers who rely on the Port of Vancouver to move their cargo, there is continued confidence in the reliability of the Vancouver gateway. This foundation continues to draw investment in terminal infrastructure and other cargo handling facilities to support future growth of the gateway.
In July 2020, a new truck staging facility opened in Delta, B.C, making room for up to 140 trucks, including early arrivals to the Deltaport container terminal at Roberts Bank. This will help to address long-standing road safety concerns in the Delta community when port-destined container truck queues reach more than 15 trucks along the Roberts Bank causeway. Trucks making their way to Deltaport previously queued on the causeway when arriving early for reservations or during terminal closures.
“This new facility will enhance safety and traffic flow, and also provide a separate area for commercial vehicle safety and enforcement to perform inspections,” said Peter Xotta, vice president of planning and operations at the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority. “We were pleased to collaborate with the City of Delta and our partners at Transport Canada and the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to complete this important project, particularly during these unusual times.”
As a joint partnership with the Government of Canada (Transport Canada) and the British Columbia Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, this has been part of a series of projects known as the Deltaport Terminal, Road and Rail Improvement Project meant to improve the movement of containers in and out of Roberts Bank.