As part of our work to ensure there is enough space for growing trade on Canada’s west coast, the port authority regularly commissions independent, expert third-party container traffic forecasts that consider long-term trends in global markets and trade, as well as a range of other drivers of container traffic demand. The findings of these forecasts, which have proven to be very accurate, conclude that container traffic to and from the West Coast is expected to grow significantly, well into the future.
Container volumes have grown at a significantly higher pace than overall economic growth within Canada, and even international trade growth. Between 1995 and 2000, the average increase in the number of containers through West Coast ports was 163,500 20-foot equivalents (TEUs) each year. Since 2012, average growth has increased to about 166,400 TEUs each year.
There are several reasons for this sustained period of high growth, including ongoing economic growth in Canada and around the world, the opening of China’s economy in the early 2000s, and the increasing preference for containers to move goods, such as grain, lumber and steel, that were previously shipped by other methods.
Based on our container traffic and capacity forecasts, the entire capacity of the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project is needed to ensure Canada is able to meet trade plans and objectives through to the mid- to late-2030s.
Learn how containers transformed global trade and how we’re working to ensure the port is ready for Canada’s trading future.
Planning to meet demand
The port authority has explored a number of opportunities to increase container capacity. Since 2003, we have:
- Increased the size and efficiency of existing container terminals
- Improved road and rail connections, to handle more containers
- Explored whether other port terminals could be converted to handle containers
- Examined the possibility of building a new terminal
A number of improvements have also been made to existing container terminals, including Vanterm and Centerm in Vancouver’s inner harbour, and Deltaport at Roberts Bank in Delta:
- Completion of the Deltaport Third Berth expansion in 2010 added 600,000 TEUs
- As part of the Deltaport Terminal, Road and Rail Improvement Project, the port authority, along with Global Container Terminals Canada and the Province of British Columbia, completed improvements in and around Deltaport that created an additional 600,000 TEUs of capacity
- The port authority, in partnership with DP World and design-build contractor Centennial Expansion Partners, is improving the Centerm marine container terminal and associated roadways to increase container handling ability from 900,000 TEUs to 1.5 million TEUs, with construction expected to be complete in 2022
- Future terminal improvements at Vanterm could generate 200,000 to 300,000 TEUs of capacity
In addition, the Port of Prince Rupert is expanding its container terminals, and all improvements at both ports are required to support Canada’s growing trade.