Port Metro Vancouver is Canada’s gateway to Asia. As the country’s largest and most diversified port and the fourth largest by tonnage in North America, it handles $172 billion worth of goods annually operating 28 marine terminals and three Class 1 railroads in Metro Vancouver (see map on the right). The port is operated by the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, a non-shareholder and financially self-sufficient corporation, and handles five different cargo ships: automobiles, breakbulk, bulk, container and cruise. The port employs 98,800 people at an average wage of $67,000, produces $9.7 billion in Gross Domestic Product, and provides $1.3 billion per year in tax revenues.
In 2013, the Port handled a record 135 million tonnes of cargo. South Korea was the port’s third largest trading partner at 15 million tonnes. China was the port’s largest trading partner, accounting for 32 million tonnes of exported and imported goods in 2013, while Japan was the second largest at 16 million tonnes. Products imported from these Asian countries were mostly manufactured goods, including household goods, automobiles, vehicle parts and construction & material; whereas much of the merchandise leaving Port Metro Vancouver were raw materials such as metallurgical coal, thermal coal, lumber, woodpulp and canola. The table below shows the amount and the type of inbound and outbound cargo in metric tonnes for China, Japan and South Korea from the year 2011 to 2013. The following data has been obtained from Port Metro Vancouver’s 2013 Statistics Overview report.
Port Metro Vancouver is also at the center of Canada’s oil exports. The Westridge Marine Terminal, located in Burnaby, is currently the only outlet for Alberta’s oilsands in the West Coast. US-based energy company Kinder Morgan operates a 1,150-kilometer crude and refined oil pipeline that connects the Westridge Marine Terminal to Strathcona County (near Edmonton) in Alberta. At present, the terminal handles approximately five tankers per month. However, Kinder Morgan has recently proposed a controversial $5.4-biilion pipeline expansion plan to increase the pipeline capacity from the current 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000 barrels per day, and should the proposed expansion be approved, the number of tankers that would dock at Westridge Marine Terminal would increase to 34 per month. Concerns for potential oil spills and increased marine traffic at the beautiful Burrard Inlet have spurred much opposition to the so-called “TransMountain” project. It is also one of the main issues being debated in the upcoming municipal election, which is scheduled for November 15, 2014.