The debate over expanding BC's ports is having a particularly interesting session in Delta, where there is apparently a loud and not shy contingent locally there that aren't inclined to see the growth and would rather see it move to Prince Rupert.
It's a situation that could provide even more incentive to fully develop the Port of Prince Rupert's containerization plans, from Phase I, past Phase II and beyond.
While transportation officials claim that there's room for all ports to grow, the need may be urgent to expand with trade with Asia and beyond expected to grow fast over the next few years.
The South Delta Leader took a look at the debate from the Lower Mainland point of view.
Why here? The proponents speak
Jul 20 2007
Why not elsewhere?
Is Prince Rupert a viable alternative to expansion at Deltaport? Does the South Fraser Perimeter Road have to follow a northern routing near Burns Bog? And can upgraded power lines go elsewhere than through residential Tsawwassen?
The port argument is not quite as simple as re-routing container traffic to Prince Rupert’s new facilty. Don Krusel, the port authority’s CEO in Prince Rupert, said there is more than enough container traffic heading to B.C. in the coming years to keep both his rapidly expanding port, as well as those in Vancouver and Delta, busy.
“The volume of container traffic on west coast of North America is growing annually by the equivalent of one Port of Vancouver every year,” Krusel said. “And our new facility, which is opening this October, has the capacity of handling 500,000 TEUs (containers), which is basically one quarter, or less, of the annual container growth on the west coast.”
Krusel added projections indicate B.C. ports will be expected to handle nine million containers by 2020. And in order to facilitate that demand, Prince Rupert will have to realize its maximum potential to process 4 million containers a year, while ports in Vancouver make up the difference.
Port of Vancouver officials back up that claim.
Increasing traffic is the main reason why port expansion in Delta is necessary, said Anne McMullan, a spokesperson for the Vancouver Port Authority.
“We need both Delta and Prince Rupert,” she said, adding that Deltaport, when expanded, will still be short of the expected demand by about two million containers a year.
She also countered another anti-port argument that very little container traffic passing through Vancouver’s marine gateways is destined for local markets.
“About 98 per cent is Canada-bound, and about 30 per cent of that is heading for B.C.,” she said.
On the South Fraser Perimeter Road, Mike Proudfoot, executive director of the Gateway Program—which is steering the near billion dollar project—said the current route alignment is the result of extensive community consultation over the planning portion of the project.
“Over 4,000 folks participated in helping us determine the alignment of the road,” Proudfoot said. “And all of the alternatives were explored fully and did not meet the objectives of South Fraser Perimeter Road which is to improve the quality of life for residents by getting regional traffic off local roads.”
On the Hoover/Naas proposal, Proudfoot said an independent review of the truck-only route found it would only address 10 per cent of the area’s traffic, increase travel time to the Tilbury and Sunbury areas, fail to reduce traffic congestion on River Road and add to the congestion and travel times on Highway 91.
As for the power lines, BCTC officials say B.C.’s need for electricity is expected to grow 45 per cent in the next 20 years.
And the current route through Tsawwassen was approved by independent authorities including the BC Utilities Commission.
The project was also subjected to a comprehensive, 23-month review which included public and one-on-one meetings, open-houses and input from Corporation of Delta.
BCTC also did study a number of alternatives for the 3.7 km Tsawwassen segment of the 67 km project route, including a Deltaport route. And in July 2006, the BCUC directed BCTC to proceed with overhead construction along the existing right-of-way in Tsawwassen.
BCTC officials added the project—which will reduce the number of transmission line poles through Tsawwassen from 81 to 20—will be built in compliance with guidelines endorsed by leading national and international health authorities including the World Health Organization and Health Canada.