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Vancouver Increases Container Throughput at DP World Terminal

Vancouver container terminal
DP World invested in expanded capacity at its downtown Vancouver terminal (Vancouver Fraser Port Authority)

Published May 23, 2023 7:27 PM by The Maritime Executive

Vancouver Fraser Port Authority joined with terminal operator DP World to mark the completion of a major expansion project at one of the port’s terminals. The increased capacity is considered critical to the near-term growth of the port while Vancouver continues a long-term process to add a third terminal and operator to the port.

Port executives noted that DP World has operated for over 20 years in British Columbia handling over 20 million loaded TEU at the Centerm Container Terminal. It is also the 100th anniversary of terminal operations overall in Vancouver. The port is a critical part of Canada’s trade handling a third of Canada’s trade in goods outside of North America.

The expansion project was designed to increase throughput at the terminal by 60 percent. Construction on the US$260 million project was completed in February 2023 and with the facilities now in operation capacity has been increased to 1.5 million TEU a year, 40 percent over the previous capacity of 600,000 TEU annually. The terminal’s footprint was increased by 15 percent. 

As part of the investment, DP World also used the project to reduce the terminal’s environmental impact. Shore power connections were installed for containerships on dock. They also converted the existing diesel yard cranes to electric. The design of the expanded facility also eliminates wait times for vehicles at train crossings and used LEED standards in the construction.

Vancouver Fraser Port Authority also completed the South Shore Access Project earlier this month in partnership with the Government of Canada and with funding from the National Trade Corridors Fund. The final part of the South Shore Access Project, including upgrades to Waterfront Road and the removal of road and rail conflicts in the area to connect terminals directly to the Trans-Canada Highway are now complete. 

“Expanding the footprint of the Centerm container terminal and improving road and rail links in the area will increase container trade capacity and resiliency at the Port of Vancouver in the near term,” said Robin Silvester, President and Chief Executive Officer, Vancouver Fraser Port Authority. “As recent years have shown, a robust container sector is critical for Canadian exports and for reliable access to the goods Canadians depend on every day.” 

Port officials highlight Canada’s west coast marine container terminals are forecast to hit capacity by the mid- to late-2020s, following a decade of five percent average annual growth.  In 2022, the port handled an actual count of just under two million containers (3.55 million TEU).

In April the port received government consent for a controversial plan to add the third terminal to the port. They have been planning and lobbying for the terminal for a decade and still need to win critical approvals. Opposition continues based on the potential impact of the site both on natural habitats of fish and wildlife as well as the potential environmental issues. Port executives highlight the design features to limit the impact while continuing to point out that Vancouver must expand its container capacity.