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Cruise ship terminal still a possibility for Delta

The need to accommodate newer, much larger ships seen as a long-term priority
The port says that as a homeport destination, the Vancouver cruise industry injects an average of almost $3 million into the local economy for each ship that visits Canada Place. ed2456/22 images/Pixabay

It’s back on the Vancouver Port Authority’s (VFPA) radar.

Prior to the pandemic, the port was looking into the feasibility of building a new cruise ship terminal in Delta, but things were put on hold.

The port had been studying the possibility of a second Lower Mainland cruise terminal on the banks of the Fraser River, already having conducted a preliminary analysis looking at potential sites in Delta or Richmond.

While nothing has been decided, it was an analysis that was driven by growth in cruise volumes and cruise lines using bigger vessels that can’t travel under the Lions Gate Bridge.

In an interview with the Optimist this week, VFPA CEO and president Robin Silvester said it’s important to look at having more capacity for the future.

“It’s fair to say we’re picking up the reins on that project again. We’re seeing strong demand and we’ll likely have a record year in terms of passengers this year, which is great news for the region. We do need to start again to look at the opportunity to create a new terminal that won’t be constrained by a bridge or anything like that,” he said.

According to the port authority’s latest cargo volume report, cruises experienced a comeback last year with a record 307 ship visits to the Canada Place terminal after a two-year hiatus, bringing 810,090 passengers.

The port also recently said a total of 331 cruise ships visits are scheduled for the Canada Place cruise terminal between April 12 and Oct. 24, an increase of approximately eight per cent compared to 2022.

A record 1.2-to-1.3 million passengers could travel through the terminal in 2023, an increase of about 10 per cent over the record set in 2019 of 1.1 million.

Silvester said about 90 of the vessels this year will be so big that they will have to wait for the right tide conditions to make it under the Lions Gate Bridge, underlining the need to consider new capacity to accommodate bigger ships.

No timelines have been set, he added.