B.C. port expansion delayed
The Port of Vancouver and Gordon Campbell appear to believe that we are immune from these influences, but the Port of Prince Rupert is hurting and has now put off Phase 2 of its expansion.
Shipping volumes at the container port have fallen far short of initial expectations that capacity would be fully taken up this year.
Instead, only about a third had been used as of the end of November, and traffic dipped from the month before.
A Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters survey released yesterday indicates that 52 per cent of companies say their orders will likely fall between now and March, l 2009, and that more than one-third believe their inventory levels are too high. Both responses point to reduced demand for imported goods.
The decline has touched virtually every category of products shipped from Asia, including consumer goods and components used in North American manufacturing operations. But West Coast ports have seen particularly steep declines in categories of goods that don’t have to be delivered quickly.
The falloff in shipping volumes has demolished one of the key arguments for expansion at Prince Rupert – namely that other ports along the West Coast of North America were running at full capacity.
That assertion has of course not been true for some time, and is something that has been reported here. More than once. Prince Rupert was supposed to be at an advantage too – a day or more sailing saved on shipments from China – a quicker, easier route to Chicago.
The big picture is of a US, and now a Canadian, economy in deep trouble. Even our Prime Minister is acknowledging that: six weeks ago, he was firmly promising that Canada would not run a deficit budget. That is no longer the case – and indeed it is now forecast to be around $30 billion. Desperate times. But not one in which you just start spending on projects that have little chance of being useful. Like the port expansion – which is simply not needed in Prince Rupert – and won’t be needed here either.