Most of British Columbia’s container terminals are amid or about to begin major upgrades. Like a looming tsunami, an expected tidal wave of container growth on the West Coast has facilities from Prince Rupert to Vancouver expanding or reconfiguring their yards and updating equipment.
Last year, the talk in this British Columbia-wide review was of grain terminals which were flexing their expansion muscles — and that continues — but this year it seems container terminals have stolen most of the headlines with plans for millions of dollars of upgrades and extensive equipment purchases.
Photo above: Rendering of Centerm expansion courtesy Port of Vancouver.
The Port of Vancouver, as the Gateway to the Pacific, sees container volumes growing by up to five per cent a year. It has successfully piloted its way through the last decades, seeing its annual throughput volume rise from about 100 million tonnes to over 140 mt.
Last year, Vancouver terminals moved a record 3.1 million TEUs (20-foot equivalent units) up five per cent, while in Prince Rupert, container movements through its Fairview Terminal were up 26 per cent at 776,412 TEUs.
Some say this latest round of container upgrades and capacity improvements will meet the growing demand, preferably on a just-in-time basis. Apart from another possible expansion at Fairview, there doesn’t appear to be much room left at Vancouver area container terminals for any further upgrades on existing footprints. But, that’s a head-scratcher for another day.
Here’s our annual look at terminal improvements and plans around the B.C. Coast: