Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Vancouver port plans big spending for expansion

with 4 comments

Journal of Commerce Online

Port Metro Vancouver plans spending of just under C$1 billion to improve and expand operations between 2008 and 2018.

The 10-year capital investment of $950 million, not including expected land acquisitions, is by the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, known as Port Metro Vancouver, out of its own resources. The authority is owned by the Canadian government but gets no funds or subsidies from it.

Terminals and other cargo-related tenants of the port plan to spend an additional $3.2 billion on capital investments, in an overall spending plan by port tenants of $4.25 billion, according to a consultants’ report published Tuesday.

The report says some firms planning capital expenditures reported doing so “with the caveat that business continued to be ‘good.’

This is more from that press release and Intervistas report I wrote about yesterday. I am amazed that anyone now thinks that business is ‘good’ and even more that the Port thinks it needs to expand. The era of continuous growth must be over. Not just because of the economic downturn – which started to impact trans Pacific trade over two years ago. But because humanity’s continued existence on this planet means we have to find some other way of managing ourselves without growth. And since no-one seems to be willing to consider dealing with our population explosion, that means the consumption habits and waste generation of the richest nations have to be reduced, if only to allow the poor nations to catch up.

But even if that vision of the future for the world is not shared, what happens to this region if the Port, which is responsible to no one and is able to finance itself keeps on expanding? It means that the regional growth strategy gets abandoned, as the green zone and the ALR are paved, freeways expand and with them the associated sprawl development that we always said we did not want. It means we, the people of this region, get no say in our future because it is being decided in a few board rooms. And by people who simply have no conception of any other way than “business as usual”.

The hamfistedness of  the release of this report at this time is a good sign of how poor the awareness of the Port’s management is of what is going on – not just here but all around the world. Just to give give one example of the many links that come into my in box on an almost daily basis NASA scientist cites ‘global-warming emergency’

Physicist James E. Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said hundreds of millions of people will lose fresh water sources and hundreds of millions of others will be displaced by rising sea levels if fossil fuel emissions remain on their current course.

“We’ve reached a point where we have a crisis, an emergency, but people don’t know that,” Hansen told a packed Stanford audience Thursday night.

“There’s a big gap between what’s understood about global warming by the scientific community and what is known by the public and policymakers.”

Certainly the Port of Vancouver Board of Directors appear to be completely oblivious. Meanwhile, from Reuters via the IHT

With Europe and the United States staring recession in the face, a growing chorus is calling for heavy public investment in clean, green energy to revive economic growth while fighting climate change.

And not just energy – the whole way we conduct ourselves. The current model of conspicuous consumption, and short product lifetimes with constant built in obsolescence creating vast amounts of “waste” cannot continue. That is “sustainability” is supposed to be about. Reducing our demands on the earth’s resources to the point where we do not threaten the security of future generations. Or if Hansen is right, this generation!

We have known for some time that our ecofootprint would require there to be three planets for everyone to live like us. And we have already seen plenty of evidence that our rates of consumption of supposedly renewable resources – like fish stocks – are completely unsupportable.  BC has lost huge amounts of “harvestable” timber to the pine beetle. The salmon fishery is on the point of collapse (mirroring what happened to the east coast cod fishery). That is why the bears and the orcas are starving – but it is not just charismatic mega fauna whose days are numbered. So are ours if we do not change our ways. And we do not have much, if any, time left.

But who here is able to say NO to the Port of Metro Vancouver?

Written by Stephen Rees

November 27, 2008 at 1:01 pm

Posted in port expansion

4 Responses

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  1. What will it take for the people and their representatives to wake up to the fiction of our everyday lives? So glad you asked. Oil shortages, and I mean price signs on stations flashing ‘Out of Gas’. When is this likely to occur? Probably summer 2009. And no, the oil sands won’t save us because we have to share. Monetary devaluation will make oil too expensive to import. The thing to worry about isn’t growth or jobs but food. In addition to figuring out how to grow food with less energy we need to start moving to higher ground, especially railbeds. Interesting times!

    Greg A

    November 27, 2008 at 7:08 pm

  2. “start moving to higher ground, especially railbeds”

    Good thing we built Skytrain then!! 😉


    November 28, 2008 at 12:51 am

  3. Um, do we have to row to the stations?

    Malcolm J.

    November 28, 2008 at 10:56 am

  4. “The thing to worry about isn’t growth or jobs but food.”

    Quite right. B.C.’s Food Self-Reliance report ( determined that we need another 92,000 hectares of irrigated farmland (not to mention a lot more non-irrigated land) above the 2005 total in order to provide B.C. residents with a proper diet at the projected 2025 population. Instead, we’ve lost 10,200 hectares to development since 2003 and it is only increasing.

    Metro Vancouver is currently working on regional plans for agriculture ( In the meantime, a developer feeding frenzy is building, thanks to complacent, developer-friendly city councils like that of Delta.


    November 28, 2008 at 12:52 pm

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