News & Resources

Project Rationale

October 11th, 2018 11:50 pm

Connecting Canada to the world

The future of Canada’s economic prosperity and competitiveness depends on being able to get goods and resources to and from other markets efficiently and reliably, a sentiment echoed by governments at all levels in their trade strategies and policies.

Independent expert forecasts predict sustained growth in container traffic to and from the West Coast up to at least 2040, by which a total of about 8.0 million TEUs (or 20-foot-equivalent units) of containers is expected. However, West Coast ports will not be able to manage that growth unless significant new capacity is created. If we do not find a way to create new container terminal capacity, Canada’s ability to trade with Asia and other growing economies will be significantly constrained.

The alternatives

The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority began studying how best to address the pending shortfall in container capacity in the late 1990s, and since 2003, we have worked to:

  • Increase the size and efficiency of existing container terminals
  • Upgrade road and rail connections to improve the flow of trade, handle more containers, and minimize impacts of growing trade on local communities
  • Explore whether other terminals could be converted to container terminals
  • Examine the possibility of building a new terminal

In Prince Rupert, a new container terminal has been built and is now being expanded.

However, even with the additional capacity provided by these improvements, it won’t be enough to manage Canada’s future trade demand.

Having exhausted all other options, the port authority has determined that Canada needs a new container terminal on the West Coast.

After years of planning and environmental and engineering study, we have concluded the best place to locate a new container terminal is at Roberts Bank in Delta, British Columbia.

Why Roberts Bank?

Roberts Bank is an established trade gateway and well positioned to handle future growth. Its competitive advantages include:

  • Deep water that can accommodate the largest modern container ships far from sensitive ecosystems closer to shore, such as eel grass that provides habitat for Chinook salmon, and crab-rearing beds
  • Proximity to major truck and rail corridors including direct and unimpeded access by rail lines to and from Canada and the United States
  • Proximity to Pacific Ocean shipping routes
  • Direct access to numerous off-dock container handling facilities

Download the Project Rationale Summary information sheet as a PDF.

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