Canada’s largest port is getting an upgrade

The Port of Vancouver is planning a serious update, but let’s just say it’s going to be a bit more complicated than updating your phone’s operating system or your LinkedIn headshot.

What happened: The federal government gave its seal of approval to the Port of Vancouver’s proposed $3.5 billion expansion to build the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 (RBT2), which would increase the port’s container capacity by ~50%, per The Globe and Mail 

  • The project would eventually let the port take in 2.4 million more containers a year than it does now. 

Why it matters: The Port of Vancouver is Canada’s largest port, with over $275 billion of goods passing through annually. Too bad it ranked near dead last of all ports globally for efficiency, according to last year’s rankings by The World Bank and S&P Global.

  • It's also the main hub for Asian imports, which the port projects will increase in the near future. If they do, it could run out of space before the decade ends. 

Yes, but: Environmentalists warn that—despite 370 federal environmental stipulations for the project—construction and increased shipping traffic upon completion will cause irrevocable harm to the region’s marine life, in particular, to the resident killer whales.

  • Other critics argue RBT2 is unnecessary since the Port of Prince Rupert is rolling out its own expansion plans that would bolster container capacity by a similar amount.  

What’s next: RBT2 still needs a litany of permits from various federal departments, including Environment and Climate Change Canada, a process expected to take three years.—QH