Stephen Rees's blog

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

B.C. port expansion delayed

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Prince Ruperts new container berth

Prince Rupert's new container berth

Globe and Mail

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.

Written by Stephen Rees

December 19, 2008 at 7:41 pm

Posted in Gateway, port expansion

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One Response

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  1. In BC Local News the Port of Prince Rupert is denying this story. Well, sort of. Apparently the delay was already planned so it is not a real delay. “We adjusted the time line a year ago”

    But it gets better

    the current economic crisis has led to a review of demand forecasts and business case as would be prudent in any development of this scope,” read the statement,

    “Medium and long term outlook for transpacific trade and Prince Rupert’s opportunity to play a strong role in this arena remain strong.

    I wonder who does their forecasting? I hope they got one of those new HD, digital crystal balls. Because this does not look like any future I can foresee.

    For a complete rundown on Pacific Coast port activity this year see Pacific Shipper Online

    Stephen Rees

    December 22, 2008 at 12:26 pm


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