Port of Vancouver (1964–2008)

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Port of Vancouver (Defunct)
  Port of Vancouver is now known as Port Metro Vancouver
General information
Founded Original shipment 1964
Defunct January 1, 2008
 - Latitude
 - Longitude

49°16'37" N
123°07'15" W
 - Coastline
 - Land
 - Water

247 kilometres
4.6 km²
60 km²
Major marine terminals 25
Vessel arrivals 2,677 (FY 2005)
Annual container volume 1.8 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) (FY 2005)
Annual cargo tonnage 76.5 million metric revenue tons (FY 2005)
Value of cargo handled $43 billion USD (CY 2004)
Cruise traffic 910,000 passengers (FY 2005)
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) $4.0 billion USD (FY 2004)
Jobs 69,200 (total) (FY 2004)
VPA Board of Directors
Vice chairman
George A. Adams
John T. Willcox
Other board members Greg S. Arason
Marilyn Baker
Kazuko Komatsu
Kenneth L. Matchett
Sarah A. Morgan-Silvester
R.V. (Bob) Wilds
President and CEO Captain Gordon Houston
Official Website

The Port of Vancouver was the name of the largest port in Canada, the largest in the Pacific Northwest, and the largest port on the West Coast of North America by metric tons of total cargo, with 76.5 million metric tons.[1] The port amalgamated with the Fraser River Port Authority and the North Fraser Port Authority in 2008 to form Port Metro Vancouver.

Vancouver is the 50th largest port in the world.[citation needed]

In terms of container traffic measured in twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU), the port ranked in 2006 as the largest port in Canada, the largest in the Pacific Northwest, the fourth-largest port on the West Coast of North America, and fifth-largest in North America overall.[2]

The Port of Vancouver trades $43 billion in goods with more than 90 trading economies annually. The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority is the corporation responsible for management of the port, which, in addition to the city of Vancouver, includes all of Burrard Inlet and Roberts Bank Superport in Delta.

The Port of Vancouver is also the world hub for Canadian shipping company, Asia Pacific Marine Container Lines.


The port has 25 major marine terminals: three container, seventeen bulk cargo and five break bulk cargo.

The Centerm container and break bulk terminals are leased by P&O Ports, which was acquired by Dubai Ports World in 2005.

Economic impact[edit]

The port generates 30,100 direct jobs through its activities. Employment is generated by five sectors related to the port: maritime cargo, cruise industry, capital investment in port facilities, shipbuilding and repair, and non-maritime enterprises. Maritime cargo is the largest of these sectors, generating more than 21,000 direct jobs. The cruise sector is the next largest, generating almost 5,600 direct jobs. Factoring in the multiplier effects (including indirect jobs), the port has a total employment impact of 69,200 jobs across all five sectors. The jobs created by the port pay on average 52% higher than the average wage in British Columbia.

The port contributed $1.8 billion in direct GDP and $4.1 billion in direct economic output to the Canadian economy in 2004. When multiplier effects are taken into account, these figures increase to $4.0 billion in GDP and $8.9 billion in economic output. The port's economic impact extends into Western Canada and beyond, with most of the exports shipped through the port produced outside of Greater Vancouver, and many of the imports intended for markets outside of the Lower Mainland.

The port is the home port for the Vancouver–Alaska cruise, which occurs annually from May to September, with more than 1 million revenue passengers on about 300 sailings passing through the port's two cruise terminals, Canada Place and Ballantyne. In 2006 the port hosted 28 ships at its two cruise terminals.


In 2006 the port handled 79.4 million tonnes, up 4% from 76.5 million tonnes in 2005. In 2005 the port handled 1.7 million total containers, 910,172 cruise passengers, and 105,246 foreign vessels.

In 2005 the port's top import and export partner nations were:

Container terminal expansion[edit]

The Port of Vancouver.

Studies indicate that container traffic on the West Coast of North America is expected to triple in the next 20 years.[3][4][5][6] The Port of Vancouver has the opportunity to capture nearly 7-million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) by 2020. In order to meet future requirements, the VPA has examined options to increase the port's container terminal capacity. In August 2002, the VPA announced the beginning of the process. The VPA is looking at a three-pronged approach to increasing container capacity at the Port of Vancouver:

  • Efficiencies at existing terminals
  • Expansion at existing terminals
  • Building new facilities

However, the Port of Prince Rupert is also looking to capture the expected increase in container traffic. While both Vancouver and Prince Rupert have direct rail lines to major U.S. destinations such as Chicago, the location of Prince Rupert has the logistical advantage of being closer to major Asian ports.


The Port of Vancouver and downtown core in 1929. Dotted lines are water taxi services to North Vancouver, Indian Arm, West Vancouver, Howe Sound and beyond. Close-up of British Columbia Electric Railway system map (click to enlarge)

With the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914, Vancouver’s seaport was able to compete with the major international ports for global trade because it was positioned as an alternative route to Europe. During the 1920s, the provincial government successfully fought to eliminate freight rates that discriminated against goods transported by rail through the mountains, giving the young lawyer of the case, future Vancouver Mayor and Canadian senator, Gerry McGeer, a reputation as “the man who flattened the Rockies.”[7] Consequently, Prairie wheat came west through Vancouver rather than being shipped out through eastern ports. The federal government established the Harbour Commission (forerunner to the Port Authority) in the early 1920s to oversee port development. With its completion in 1923, Ballantyne Pier was the most technologically advanced port in the British Empire.[8] The CPR, lumber exporters, terminal operators, and other companies based on the waterfront banded together after World War I to establish the Shipping Federation of British Columbia as an employers’ association to manage industrial relations on the increasingly busy waterfront.[9] The Federation fought vociferously against unionization, defeating a series of strikes and breaking unions until the determined longshoremen established the current ILWU local after the Second World War.[10] By the 1930s, commercial traffic through the port had become the largest sector in Vancouver’s economy.[11]


On January 1, 2008, the Port of Vancouver officially amalgamated with two other local port authorities, the North Fraser Port Authority and the Fraser River Port Authority, into a new organization, called the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority.[12]

Panorama of Vancouver's waterfront (1910).

References and notes[edit]

  1. ^ "World Port Rankings - 2005" Archived 2007-09-27 at the Wayback Machine. - Port Industry Statistics - American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) - Updated May 1, 2007 - (Microsoft Excel *.XLS document)
  2. ^ "North American Port Container Traffic - 2006" Archived 2008-12-19 at the Wayback Machine. - Port Industry Statistics - American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) - Updated May 14, 2007 - (Adobe Acrobat *.PDF document)
  3. ^ "British Columbia Ports Strategy" - Ministry of Small Business and Economic Development & Ministry of Transportation - Province of British Columbia - March 18, 2005 - (Adobe Acrobat *.PDF document)
  4. ^ Pacific Gateway Overview Ministry of Transportation - Province of British Columbia
  5. ^ Pacific Gateway Reference Materials Archived 2008-07-05 at the Wayback Machine. Ministry of Transportation - Province of British Columbia
  6. ^ Raine, George. "Containerization changed shipping industry forever" - San Francisco Chronicle - (c/o Seattle Post-Intelligencer) - Friday, February 10, 2006
  7. ^ Nicol, Eric. Vancouver. Toronto: Doubleday, 1970.
  8. ^ “Port of Vancouver – Yesterday." Archived 2006-03-28 at the Wayback Machine. [video] Port of Vancouver [website].
  9. ^ Yarmie, Andrew. “The Right to Manage: Vancouver Employers’ Associations, 1900-1923,” BC Studies, no. 90 (1991): 40-74.
  10. ^ Phillips, Paul A. No Power Greater: A Century of Labour in British Columbia. Vancouver: BC Federation of Labour/Boag Foundation, 1967.
  11. ^ Leah Stevens, “Rise of the Port of Vancouver,” Economic Geography 12, no. 1 (January 1936): 61-70, and R. C. McCandless, “Vancouver’s ‘Red Menace’ of 1935: The Waterfront Situation,” BC Studies 22 (1974): 56-70.
  12. ^ [1][permanent dead link] About Us - Vancouver Fraser Port Authority

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 49°17′07″N 123°04′50″W / 49.2854°N 123.0805°W / 49.2854; -123.0805