Port Metro Vancouver is calling on provincial and regional leaders to embrace a shared responsibility for managing the growth of Vancouver’s trade gateway. The port authority warned without a collective approach to managing growth, the region’s economy, environment and quality of life will suffer, along with Canada’s ability to handle increasing trade.
In a speech to the Vancouver Board of Trade today, Port Metro Vancouver President and CEO Robin Silvester highlighted the shrinking supply of trade-enabling industrial land as the largest threat facing the Vancouver trade gateway and the region’s continued livability. Industrial land creates jobs, facilitates the movement of goods, and is critical to the local and national economies.
"The Asia-Pacific Gateway is crucial to the future of British Columbia and Canada, and touches all our lives. Without a secure base of trade-enabling industrial land, we literally risk hitting an economic brick wall,” Silvester said. “The provincial government has always been a strong partner in the development of the gateway. We must now come together, along with local and regional government, to protect our land in a coordinated fashion.”
Port-related activities support 57,000 high paying jobs in the Lower Mainland, and between 2009 and 2025, an estimated $17 billion will be invested in related infrastructure in the region. Ongoing investments and the associated high-paying jobs are all at risk if there is insufficient land to support goods movement into the future.
“We recently commissioned a study by Site Economics to look at available trade-enabling industrial land in the Lower Mainland, and look forward to releasing that study and more information next week,” Silvester continued. “This is an urgent issue that requires action now.”
Industrial land located near major rail and road networks is needed for warehouses and distribution centres so that goods movement can be done efficiently. Locating such facilities far from the port, and even outside the Lower Mainland, would mean increased truck traffic, more congestion, higher consumer prices and environmental impacts, in addition to lost jobs.
Port Metro Vancouver and stakeholders from local communities, industry, government and First Nations have been engaging in a long-term planning exercise, called Port 2050 to identify these issues and others. It was an important first step towards developing a shared vision for gateway growth, but more needs to be done.
“We need to take concrete steps together to ensure the Vancouver trade gateway remains sustainable, responsive to Canadian trade demands, and aligned with global market trends. But only through a collaborative approach will that be possible,” added Silvester.