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.

2020 view of projected containerized trade growth on the West Coast of Canada. The base case represents the scenario that we deem the most realistic and likely to occur by applying the most probable assumptions.

2020 view of projected containerized trade growth on the West Coast of Canada. The base case represents the scenario that we deem the most realistic and likely to occur by applying the most probable assumptions.

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

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