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Shipping container storage best use of Delta's industrial land?

Up to 2,300 units are to be stored on-site
seaspan shipping container yard application
A report to council notes Seaspan expects shipping container storage services will be in demand beyond the maximum three years of the temporary use permit. As a result, Seaspan also submitted a rezoning application to formally recognize the historic use of the overall site as a marine terminal that would allow the company to operate a shipping container storage business indefinitely.

Delta council this week approved another application to allow an outside shipping container storage yard to set up shop.

Seaspan Ferries Corporation applied for a temporary use permit for an outside shipping container storage yard on a portion of the properties at 7570, 7646 and 7654 Hopcott Road for a period of three years.

The 3.8 hectare (9.4 acre) area is located on Tilbury Island.

The owner is proposing to have 350 40-foot equivalent units (FEUs) at ground level for storage and the shipping containers would be stacked up to seven units high. 

There would be up to 2,300 FEUs stored on-site.

A report to council notes the properties have been used for marine transportation for over 30 years.

Seaspan Ferries operates a commercial ferry service between the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island and also operates a container loading service that would be replaced by the container storage service. 

In a separate application, the company has applied to rezone the properties, as well as 7660 and 7690 Hopcott Road, to allow it to operate the outside shipping container storage business indefinitely, as the marine zoning sought does not include a limit on the outside storage of shipping containers.

The application is aimed at meeting market demand as a result of the closure of another large-scale shipping container storage business, Delco Container Limited Partnership at 7664 80th Street.

The storage of shipping containers also supports Seaspan’s business as it sends empty containers to Vancouver Island that are returned with goods for export, the report notes.

Council recently voted in favour of allowing another temporary use application for the storage of thousands of shipping containers on a nearby vacant property.

That operation will see an outside shipping container storage yard on the north portion of the property at 9250 River Road, as well as a couple of unaddressed parcels, for a period of three years.

At full capacity, that operation by a separate owners will see up to 4,160 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) stored on that site, which is to be eventually redeveloped into a new use.

Despite a traffic study concluding the new Seaspan use would result in fewer vehicle trips than the current container loading operation, Coun. Dan Copeland conveyed concern at Monday's meeting.

“My biggest concern is what our responsibility is with repurposing industrial land. When we often talk about our housing crises, we know full well that we also have an industrial land crises going on, and what is the best use of industrial land,” he said.

Copeland also noted the concerns and questions raised by Delta resident Roger Emsley in letters to council, which requested the Seaspan proposal be sent back to staff for a full review of all the container storage in Delta.

Community planning director Marcy Sangret said the proposed use is complimentary to the existing marine uses taking place.

Coun. Jeannie Kanakos said the shortage of container storage facilities is also a regional issue that demands attention from Metro Vancouver.