Port Metro Vancouver's 2012 mid-year statistics show a healthy continued growth of six per cent overall, according to a report released last week by the port authority.
The mid-year statistics report shows that Port Metro Vancouver handled 62.3 million tonnes of cargo through the end of June and, says the port authority, is on track for another strong year.
Among the growth categories is container traffic, setting a record in the first half of 2012 by growing six per cent, compared to the first half of 2011, to 1.3 million TEUs (20-foot-equivilant units). Both total foreign tonnage and total domestic tonnage increased over that time, meaning more business at Delta's container port. Coal exports also posted record numbers, also meaning more business at Delta's coal port.
Robin Silvester, president and CEO of Port Metro Vancouver, told the Optimist that while individual numbers are not released by terminal, the six per cent growth in containers is "across the gateway" and all terminals have shown growth.
"The fundamental message is we're seeing slightly stronger growth than we saw last year, pretty healthy growth numbers ... the containers that have actually got cargo in them (heading to export) have slightly stronger growth. We can have even more confidence when we see a container on a truck heading down Deltaport Way that it's got cargo in it and all the economic benefits that brings to the Lower Mainland," he said.
"That kind of underpins the need to grow container capacity. I know there are some voices out in the community that say there's no evidence in growth in containers.
Well, there is and we've actually based our medium term capacity requirement on a forecast of around five per cent year-on year growth, and we're actually seeing growth higher than that number," Silvester noted.
Last year the port authority released details of its Container Capacity Improvement Program - a long-term strategy to increase container capacity at existing container facilities and add new capacity at Deltaport with the proposed Terminal 2 (T2) facility.
A number of environmental studies are already underway for T2, although the project may end up being built over several phases rather than all at once.
Silvester noted the first stage to accommodate the movement of goods won't be T2, but the Deltaport Road and Rail Improvement Project, aimed at maximizing the capacity and flow through the current facilities.
"That's really the only opportunity we have to deliver capacity effectively before we have to look at Terminal 2. So that's going to be online by 2015. We then will look at Terminal 2 to come online at 2020, but we're in the early stages of that process and will look at options to bring in that capacity in a phased way," he explained.
Silvester noted the overriding message is that they're seeing the growth they've projected, recently having their forecast redone by an international expert who's come to the same growth projections.
"We're feeling very sure, as much as you ever can be, with the forecast with that medium term growth of about five per cent, which means we will need extra capacity," Silvester said.
The port authority has embarked on a two-year process to update its land use plan, starting with a series of stakeholder workshops that were held in April and May.
More than 180 people representing government, First Nations, industry and community organizations attended those sessions.
Port Metro Vancouver, which recently released a summary report on those discussions, will continue to talk to stakeholders at the provincial and federal levels, as well as take a closer look at all the input that's been gathered. The port authority will then draft some new policy goals and objectives before holding more stakeholder discussions.
Silvester said the plan is to finalize a new land use plan in 2013.
Meanwhile, B.C. Transportation Minister Blaire Lekstrom recently responded to Delta council's request for serious consideration being given to a proposal to build an inland container terminal at Ashcroft. He said it is up to the private sector to determine if and when a viable business case can be made.