Against Port Expansion in the Fraser Estuary BC
APE (Against Port Expansion in the Fraser Estuary BC) is a group of concerned citizens who recognize that plans for container terminal expansion on Roberts Bank (T2) will see the degradation of the quality of life for thousands of Lower Mainland residents; the industrialization of prime agricultural land; and the loss of globally-significant habitat for salmon, migrating birds and orca whales.
APE Peep-In April 25
The second annual APE Peep-in will be held April 25 at Brunswick Point, West Ladner.
Click below to see the advertisement that will appear in the media
Growth in Container Business at Port Metro Vancouver Fails to Meet Projections
LESS THAN 1% ANNUAL GROWTH IN CANADIAN VOLUMES
Port Metro Vancouver (PMV) is pushing for a 2nd massive container terminal in the Fraser River Estuary despite the fact that PMV container volumes are showing only very slow growth in recent years.
PMV claims container volumes will double over the next few years and nearly triple by 2030, reflecting an expected annual growth of 5% to 7% annually. However, from 2007 to 2014, container growth averaged only 2.2 percent per year. At this rate, it will take 32 years to double the current business and published information shows that PMV already has this capacity.
Whilst the large majority of containers moving through PMV are Canadian origin or destination, the important factor to note is where the recent growth is coming from. As the graph below demonstrates, most of this modest growth is due to USA containers being funnelled through the port with little economic value to Canada. There has been a miniscule 0.7 percent annual growth in Canadian import/export containers through PMV since 2007, certainly nothing to justify the huge, intrusive Terminal 2 project in an incredibly important and sensitive environment.
Note: CAGR percentages below are each expressed as a percent contribution to the overall
In the last few years, Canadian international trade, particularly in western Canada, has settled into the current pattern, whereby we import much of our needs for manufactured goods from overseas, (in containers), and export our natural resources in bulk form. Prior to 2007, there was a rapid increase in container traffic as the business was new and getting established. This led to the false premise that such growth would continue indefinitely. Port Metro Vancouver (PMV) is still using this premise to justify another giant container terminal.
However, the container business at Port Metro Vancouver (PMV) matured around 2007. Canadian-destined TEU import volumes from here on in can only be expected to roughly match the general increase in Canadian GDP, which is typically about 2.0 - 2.5 percent per year. This is a far cry from the 6% to 7% per year that PMV is using in its projections.
Port Metro Vancouver TEUs Showing US and Canadian Volumes
The majority of growth in Canadian container volumes is being handled at the Prince Rupert Port Authority (PPRA). In 2014, container shipping through PPRA was up 15 percent from 2013, handling 640,000 TEUs with about half of these volumes for Canadian destinations, the rest to the USA. In March, 2015, PPRA announced a $200 million expansion at the Fairview Container Terminal to increase capacity by 60 percent. Prince Rupert has the advantage over PMV of being 2-3 sailing days closer to Asian markets. PPRA also has the critical advantage of connecting Canada directly to the US Gulf Coast, on a less congested line (via the Canadian National Railway and its extensive connections in the US Midwest) thereby avoiding the punitive US Harbour Taxes on the West Coast and the high cost of union dock labor unrest.
The future for increased container shipments through the Prince Rupert Authority looks bright indeed, but not so for Port Metro Vancouver, which basically is facing a saturated market for containers in Canada, and no particular advantage with the US volumes which have grown to 15 percent of PMV’s container trade in the last 2 years. In any case, port expansion to handle import/export containers for the Americans will do little for our economy, and tragically it will cause irreparable damage to our scarce and vital farmlands and the Fraser River delta.
Over-estimating projected growth and understating current capacity, Port Metro Vancouver plans to dredge the estuary and construct a 284-acre island for a 3-berth container terminal in the Fraser Estuary, all the while claiming no accountability to the environmental effects beyond the areas it manages. This astonishing attitude contradicts the very purpose of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and Canada’s responsibility to cumulative effects, species at risk, migratory birds, and wild salmon.
Federal, provincial and local governments continue to pour tax dollars ($8 billion and counting) into the Vancouver Asia-Pacific Gateway infrastructure to facilitate the container business which is only 18 percent of the port’s tonnage compared to 82 percent for Bulk and Break-bulk shipping. Not only are the products exported in Bulk and Break-bulk vital to the Port, but, more importantly, they are the mainstays of the economy of Western Canada with products such as coal, grains, mining products, fertilizers and wood products. These products truly do sustain thousands, nay millions, of highly paid jobs throughout Canada.
The Container business on the other hand, is basically an import business, bringing in mostly manufactured goods which sustain millions of jobs in the countries that send us those goods, and some jobs in our retail sector, mostly minimum wage unfortunately. It’s nice to get these iPad’s, Mercedes cars, Panasonic TV’s, etc. but let us not confuse this with job creation in Canada.
Some Break-bulk products are now being shipped out in containers as exports from PMV, giving a misleading impression of the importance of container shipping for these vital Canadian products. The use of containers is convenient as empty containers have to be shipped back to the countries of origin. So filling them with Break-bulk products is a good way to do this, especially if the shipment rates for such ‘empty’ containers are near zero. There is no business case for this export trade, except that containers must be recycled somehow, no matter what the cost. This leads to a false impression of overall growth.
Therefore the use of empty containers for exports may be desirable for getting rid of huge and unsightly piles of steel boxes, but it is not profitable to Canada, and should not be used to destroy the Fraser River Delta, the most important biological environment on the BC coast, from almost any perspective.
We may ask several pertinent questions:
1) Why are the federal and provincial governments supporting a totally unnecessary terminal which will destroy globally-significant habitat?
2) Why are billions in taxes being spent on the Vancouver Pacific Gateway Strategy to provide infrastructure to move and store containers thereby choking up Metro Vancouver ports, roads, railways and industrial lands?
3) As time goes on and the PMV Canadian container business fails to grow as predicted by the proponents, will the new terminal then be used for other purposes such as fuels? (As happened a few years ago, with the failed grain terminal at Roberts Bank. The first two container berths at Deltaport were built without any environmental assessment. If the second container terminal is built, the environmental damage will have occurred and other options, such as fuel, could arise.)
*Note 1: Prior to 2008, the Fraser River Port Authority reportedly separately from the Vancouver Port Authority (VPA). The current Vancouver Fraser Port Authority (commonly called Port Metro Vancouver) was created in January, 2008, through the amalgamation of the Vancouver Port Authority, the Fraser River Port Authority and the North Fraser Port Authority.
1. Container Traffic Forecast Study – Port Metro Vancouver, June, 2014
Ocean Shipping Consultants; pages 57, 59, 81, 82, 207, 208, 209 and 193
2. Port Metro Vancouver Container Forecasts, July 2013: Ocean Shipping Consultants, pages 175 &178
3. Facts and Stats Port Metro Vancouver: Container Stats Monthly 2008-2014, 2014 Statistics Overview
4. Pacific Gateway Strategy: (March 4, 2014 - Data provided to Bloomberg BNA by the B.C. Government http://www.bna.com/canadas-west-coast-n17179882593/
5. Prince Rupert to expand port’s container cargo capacity: Fairview Terminal operator committed to $200 million project that will increase capacity 60%.
6. Journal of Commerce, February 12, 2015, Vancouver sees 4% TEU Growth in 2015 after record-setting 2014
7, 2008 Port Metro Vancouver Economic Impact Study, January 12, 2009 by InterVISTAS, pages 9 & 69
8. Port Metro Vancouver: Port Growth & Development: Land Use Plan Update, Background Paper, page 8
9. Transport Canada, March 2008: Pacific Coast Container Terminal Competitiveness Study TP 14837E Prepared for: Policy Integration and Research Branch, Strategic Policy Directorate Policy Group by Hanam Canada Corporation, Victoria, BC page 36
10. Global Containers Inc. A publication by TSI in 2006/2007 announced that the new Third Berth would increase capacity to 2.1 million TEUs. (Slide Presentation: page 17)
11. Worley Parsons Canada, November, 2011: Projections of Vessel Calls and Movements at Deltaport and Westshore Terminals - Deltaport Terminal Road and Rail Improvement Project (DTRRIP) pages 22, 24 and 41
12. Deltaport Terminal, Road and Rail Improvement Project, page1 http://www.portmetrovancouver.com/docs/default-source/projects-dtrrip/pmv-dtrrip-project-update---july-2014.pdf?sfvrsn=2
Port Metro Vancouver - Stop Ignoring the Science Surrounding Shorebird Feeding on Roberts Bank, According to a New Study
The latest scientific paper on biofilm feeding by shorebirds on Roberts Bank, jointly-authored by a team from Simon Fraser University and Environment Canada, has just been released in the January 2015 edition of the “Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science Journal” – an international multidisciplinary journal.
This new and important research clearly demonstrates – once again – the critical importance of Roberts Bank in supporting internationally significant populations of migratory shorebirds and Western Sandpipers in particular.
Key points in the paper include:
- Western sandpipers and dunlin follow ebbing tides while foraging on stopovers.
- Tide following foraging behaviour is stronger for dunlin than western sandpipers.
- Western sandpiper foraging distribution matched biofilm availability. (meaning that this is their preferred food despite other options being available)
- Biofilm, an energy source for shorebirds, merits conservation consideration.
As the paper documents, shorebird species rely on habitats like Roberts Bank, yet these species are becoming increasingly threatened by industrial development. A prime example of this is Port Metro Vancouver’s plans to build a massive man-made island on Roberts Bank for a second container terminal.
Based on the study that lead to the publication of this research paper, it is clear that the intertidal biofilm that is present on Roberts Bank plays an important role in shorebird diets – the western sandpiper in particular. Daily averages of more than 100,000 sandpipers concentrate at Roberts Bank during the northward migration. The paper specifically recommends that environmental assessments for coastal development and conservation strategies for shorebirds need to explicitly consider the physical and biotic processes that produce and replenish biofilm. The conservation implications are clear. The environmental quality of biofilm rich stop-over sites must be maintained so that biofilm availability for shorebirds remains adequate. Therefore there has to be a major conservation priority to safeguard the Roberts Bank habitat, thus ensuring that biofilm availability. What does that involve - no more port development, no more land reclamation for industrial uses.
In related news the country of Panama has just announced new legislation which will protect a key area of wetlands in the Bay of Panama, home to migratory shorebirds including the western sandpiper. Under the new law, already in effect, construction is banned in a 210,000 acre stretch of the Bay of Panama.
If Panama can do it why cannot Canada?
Port Metro Vancouver – are you listening?
If you wish to access the full research paper please follow this link:
Alternatively if you would like a copy then please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Latest PMV Stats Show Terminal 2 Not Justified
Port Metro Vancouver finally released its 2014 year end container statistics. No wonder they took so long – the actual containers handled (TEUs – Twenty Foot Equivalent Units) came in well below their latest forecast. As recently as June 2014 PMV had been projecting an annual increase of over 6 percent to almost 3 million TEUs. However 2014 actually ended with them handling just over 2.9 million TEUs, a one year shortfall of almost 90,000 TEUs. In fact as recently as 2011 they were forecasting they would handle almost 3.3 million TEUs in 2014. So even having reduced their forecasts they still fell short. Still that did not stop the Port spin machine kicking into high gear, claiming in the media that 2014 was a record year.
In fact PMV’s own recently-published figures show that there was zero growth in full container shipments in 2014. Even adding in the movement of empty containers, PMV only recorded a 3 percent annual growth over 2013 - and nobody makes money shipping empty containers. What the Port fails to mention is that their 2014 figures were bolstered by the handling of increased US container traffic, as a result of the labour disruptions at US West Coast ports. If it had not been for that bonus they might well have seen a year over year decline in container traffic.
In the last six years PMV has missed its forecast increase each and every year. The actual 6 year compound annual growth rate for total containers is running at 2.63 percent and for full containers at 2.82 percent. Many factors including a repatriation of manufacturing jobs to North America indicate that going forward all PMV can expect is a 4 percent annual growth – perhaps 5 percent at best.
This is supported by recent industry forecasts – including from one of the major shipping lines - suggesting that going forward an annual growth of between 4 and 5 percent is realistic. Despite that PMV has been claiming recently that they will record increased container volumes each and every year going forward of between 6 and 7 percent. How are they going to do that when the last six years show that their compound annual growth is less than 3 percent?
Meanwhile the Port of Prince Rupert has had healthy growth, recording a 15 percent year over year increase for 2014. Prince Rupert container port is in the midst of a phased expansion that will add significant container capacity, sufficient to satisfy Canada’s trading needs for many years to come.
It is time that Port Metro Vancouver stopped the game playing and admitted that a second container terminal on Roberts Bank is not needed now or in the foreseeable future.
The YouTube clip from Citizens Against Port Expansion tells the story.