Metro Vancouver’s port authority is steaming ahead with a multibillion-dollar expansion despite the triple threat of a global financial crisis, increased competition and a slowdown in shipping traffic.
The port plans to spend about $4.5 billion over the next 10 years on a new terminal in Delta, and on the expansion of the existing container facilities and the possible expansion of the cruise ship terminal in Vancouver.
Port Metro Vancouver CEO Gordon Houston said he expects business will be down through much of next year, but that won’t change the port’s long-term plans. “When we put a piece of infrastructure in place, it’s there 100 years. It’s not a short-term business and we have a lot of confidence in the long term,” he said.
Houston said he doesn’t know how much business the port has lost, because the effects of the global economic slowdown are just starting to show up locally. “The shipping world is usually a few months behind economic events because it works on contract, but definitely the numbers are down,” said Houston.
Vancouver is competing with Los Angeles, Seattle and even Prince Rupert for dwindling shipping traffic, he noted. In June there weren’t enough ships to meet demand, said Houston. Now demand and rates have plummeted.
Port Metro Vancouver was created when the federal government amalgamated the three smaller local port authorities at the start of this year.