Ports look ahead

by Array


Port Metro Vancouver

As international demand for Canadian commodities grows, the Port Metro Vancouver is making enhancements to ensure it’s ready to support the need for increased capacity. The port is collaborating with government and industry on 17 separate landside projects in three distinct trade areas: the Roberts Bank Rail Corridor, the North Shore Trade Area and the South Shore Trade Area.

The developments include the Deltaport Third Berth. It opened in 2010 and with its three new quad cranes will increase cargo-handling capacity at Deltaport by up to 50 percent. There are nine projects worth $307 million  in the Roberts Bank Rail Corridor Initiative.  Six projects in the North Shore Trade Area initiative will be worth $283 million. The two projects of the South Shore Trade Area initiative will cost $127 million.

The Deltaport Terminal—an estimated $200-million project announced in September—is expected to create 600 to 800 jobs and long-term economic opportunities for the region. The project involves a new overpass and reconfigured rail track on the existing Deltaport terminal, additional track to support train movements at the terminal, and road improvements on Deltaport Way.

Labour and reliability

The British Columbia Maritime Employers Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (Canada) ratified an eight-year labour agreement, through March 2018. This contract delivers certainty for current and future port customers.


This year, the port issued its first Sustainability Report, The Way Forward. The port has received international sustainability awards including the Globe 2010 ecoFreight Award for Sustainable Transportation, the International Sustainable Shipping Award and the Association of Engineers and Professional Geoscientists Award of Excellence 2010 for shore power.

Hamilton Port Authority


Ian Hamilton, vice-president of the Hamilton Port Authority, says the HPA and its partners have a 10-year plan to invest about $500 million in the port. At this point, the port is about 40 percent of the way there. Some of that investment includes upgrading rail services and dock facilities.

Some of the money is also going toward diversifying the port’s cargo away from its core business, which is steel, says Hamilton. In fact, one of the biggest trends he sees is the port “becoming a much more important hub for agricultural products.”

Part of the shift is driven by the construction of a new $35-million terminal with Parrish & Heimbecker. The terminal, which opened this year, has two storage domes each with a capacity of 28,000 tons of grain. It allows Ontario farmers to store their agricultural product and then load it onto vessels, allowing access to international markets.

The port has another grain-handling facility, Richardson International, but Hamilton says the second terminal provides customers with more choice. Richardson has also committed to upgrading its facility. The port also handles fertilizers through Sylvite Canada and Agrico Canada Ltd. Both of these companies also have investment plans.

Hamilton says the port is also seeing growth in liquid bulk materials and has three strong liquid bulk terminals, each of which has an aggressive growth strategy.

McAsphalt Industries Limited has also built a $35-million facility to produce bitumen (used to make asphalt, tarmac and roads). The terminal is scheduled to open this fall. McAsphalt will be producing the product on site to ship abroad or to be used locally.

Hamilton says the port also expects to be announcing a container service within the next few months. “We see containers as a big growth opportunity for both ourselves and all Great Lake ports,” he says.

Port of Toronto

The Port of Toronto has primarily dealt in traditional marine cargo for many years. But the port is now moving toward dealing mostly with high-value project cargo and positioning itself as a construction materials distribution and warehousing centre for the downtown Toronto construction market.

The port is also now using 100-percent renewable electricity provided by Bullfrog Power.

Port of Montreal

The 2010-2011 period was a busy time at the Port of Montreal. In 2010, the port invested—with federal assistance—$38 million in several improvements.


Among the projects was a new common entry portal for trucks and 27 checkpoints now equipped with the latest OCR and video technologies—both of which are helping to better manage cargo flow and security. Another project was the construction of a new electrical substation that made it possible to add new gantry cranes at the terminals. The port also extended its third international container terminal so that it can accommodate two ships longer than 270m.

The port also increased its refrigerated container capacity. In 2010, the port built five new structures that could accommodate 48 sockets and a sixth was built this year, bringing the total capacity to 288 outlets. The port also purchased two more multiple-generator (GenSet) locomotives in 2011.

Port of Halifax

Over the past five years, the Halifax Port Authority has invested more than $100 million in port enhancements and the private sector has invested approximately $250 million, says Michele Peveril, senior manager, strategic relations.

Two of the improvements are a $35-million project at one of the port’s container terminals to extend the pier. This will mean two Super-Post Panamax container vessels could fit at the same time. The other project is an investment of $73 million in infrastructure improvements at its breakbulk terminal, allowing the port to handle cargo of any weight and configuration. The cost for these two projects is being shared with the federal government. Peveril adds that the port invests on average $20 million each year for port upgrades.

Diversifying trade lanes

Peveril says the port has increasingly become a gateway for Asian trade. In the past five years more than 40 percent of the cargo handled in Halifax is either from Asia or destined for Asia.

“When you look at a world map, it may not be obvious that the Port of Halifax could serve as a trade gateway for Asia,” says Peveril. Yet the port has emerged as an “ideal complement” to Pacific gateway ports, he says. Once product lands, the port can provide competitive, quick service inland to markets in Quebec, Ontario and the US Midwest.

Rail service

The port was also the first in Canada to sign a level of service agreement with CN. The agreement outlines clear performance standards for CN, the Halifax Port Authority and the terminal operators. “We have seen that tracking operational data daily and the daily discussions ensure that we have very competitive dwell times—so the container moves quickly from the ship out of the port onto rails. That’s something that over time has made it easier for shippers moving through Halifax,” says Peveril.