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TIN news:   Port Metro Vancouver is planning a major expansion for Centerm — one of the largest container terminals in the region.
About 20 per cent of container goods shipped through the city are already handled at Centerm and if the $320-million project goes ahead next year, container capacity at the Burrard Inlet terminal would be boosted by two-thirds by 2019. It’s a big jump, but according to the latest plans, that extra capacity can be won with a relatively small increase in overall footprint.
Most of the gains would come through densified rail capacity and a reworked container storage area, said Cliff Stewart, Port Metro’s vice-president of infrastructure.
“This project is just the latest in a whole long line of projects to expand the capacity and get more out of the footprint,” Stewart said.
The plan comes amid a 4.5 per cent per year-over-year rise in container trade in the region, Stewart said, adding that has come from “demand of Canadians, whether it be importers or exporters.”
Port Metro Vancouver is Canada’s largest port, followed by the Port of Montreal. During the past five years, Port Metro added the equivalent of a Port of Montreal in throughput, and in the next five to 10 years, it will add the equivalent of another Port of Montreal, Stewart said.
The preliminary plan for Centerm is to extend the container and intermodal yard westward with a larger wharf, rock dikes and earth fill. Photo of the plan can be found here.
Expansion eastward would make room for more containers, a new entry gate, more parking space and an administrative building. A fifth rail track is also planned for the terminal, as is a seventh quay crane.
Off-terminal, the port is considering removing the Heatley Overpass at the north end of Heatley Avenue in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, extending Waterfront Road for a continuous roadway through port lands from downtown Vancouver to Highway 1, and looking at constructing a new overpass.
At least those are the plans so far, Stewart said, adding that the design could always change.
“We never go into one of these things with a predetermined outcome,” he said.
The project is headed by Port Metro in partnership with Centerm’s operator DP World Vancouver, a subsidiary of DP World, which runs 70 terminals in 31 countries on six continents. DP World is listed on Nasdaq Dubai and led by CEO Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, a citizen of United Arab Emirates.
Funding for the project would be fronted by Port Metro and recovered through a new lease-fee agreement with DP World Vancouver, according to the port.
The proponents have asked for public feedback on the design in a preliminary comment period that ends Friday. It won’t be the last chance for feedback, Stewart stressed, adding that a preliminary consultation like this “is a best practice you don’t often see in this region.”
Though the proposed change in footprint is relatively small, Don Larson, president of Crab-Water for Life Society, has concerns with the proposal. In particular, Larson worries that extending the terminal westward would encroach on Crab Park, the popular Downtown Eastside green space he helped create a few decades ago.
“We wanted a simple, natural view park, but one where you could put your hands and feet in the water,” Larson said.
For Larson it comes down to a few key issues: the potential loss of sight lines, increased noise and water pollution and interference of tidal flows near the park.
Stewart said environmental impacts of the project will be scrutinized in an environmental assessment as the process continues.
Godfrey Tait, a park board spokesman, said parks staff were incorporating their own feedback on the proposal into the city’s formal response.

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