Map showing arrival of large container ships (red) to Alberni Inlet

Map showing arrival of large container ships (red) to Alberni Inlet

Alberni port hub proposal ‘no threat’ to Deltaport

Barging containers up Fraser River urged to cut truck traffic in Metro Vancouver

A proposal by Port Alberni to act as a shipping hub for both Metro Vancouver and Seattle is being pitched as a way to get trucks off the road by sending containers up the Fraser River by barge.

The concept is that a $1-billion 300-acre container handling terminal would be built along the inlet at Port Alberni, where containers would be offloaded, organized and then floated on barges to destinations in the Lower Mainland and Puget Sound.

Big container ships that now sail past Alberni Inlet could stop, offload all their cargo and return to sea, cutting off three to four days of extra sailing normally spent visiting other terminals, says Alberni Port manager Zoran Knezevic.

Virtually no containers now go up the Fraser River but Knezevic said barges could readily reach the distribution centres of Walmart, Canadian Tire, Home Depot and most other major retailers that are dotted along the river in Richmond, Delta, Surrey and Coquitlam.

That would reduce the amount of trucking now required to haul containers to those centres from either Burrard Inlet or Deltaport.

“It’s a much more efficient, environmentally friendly and cost-effective way to move containers,” said Knezevic, who presented the idea Wednesday to Metro Vancouver directors.

He said the use of the river as a “natural highway” could reduce the one million containers that now moved by truck in the Lower Mainland each year, congesting the roads.

The concept is still in the preliminary stages and no detailed business case has been prepared.

But Knezevic said it has run into early skepticism and concern from Port Metro Vancouver officials, who fear port expansion opponents will seize on it as evidence their huge Terminal 2 container expansion proposal at Deltaport is unnecessary.

He denies the Alberni proposal is a threat to Deltaport.

“It’s not competitive, we’re not going to rob anybody,” Knezevic said. “We are looking at doubling the number of containers coming through Port Metro Vancouver so I think they could easily complement each other.”

The Alberni port’s written presentation notes its “much smaller environmental impact” compared to Terminal 2.

Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie said the Alberni proposal is interesting because smaller barges can readily send goods up the river without removing the Massey Tunnel and attempting to dredge the channel deeper for big ships.

“This offers a possible opportunity to restructure the requirements we have in the Lower Mainland where we have congested roads, very high cost of land and a $3-billion project to take away the George Massey tunnel and build a bridge,” Brodie said.

Peter Xotta, Port Metro Vancouver’s vice-president of planning and operations, also told Metro directors the port will need to explore alternative methods of moving containers, and Port Alberni’s proposal may be part of the solution.

Xotta noted terminals in Metro Vancouver have the advantage of rail access that brings containers loaded with forest products or grain, which then end up empty and perfectly positioned to take retail goods.

“We need to think about what’s getting back into that container to go the other way.”

Area mayors want the port to do more to extend their hours of operation, so trucks could haul more containers at night instead of clogging roads during commuting hours.

“Port Metro Vancouver is very directly and aggressively attacking this issue,” Xotta said.

He cited the construction of multiple overpasses that are reducing congestion at railway level crossings.

Xotta said some night offloads do happen from port terminals but it tends not to be done with enough advance notice for destination warehouses to be open to receive at night.

He said the Terminal 2 proposal, which has now gone to public consultation, also allows for short-sea shipping options, but he confirmed the port supports the concept of removing the tunnel to expand shipping on the river.

Xotta cautioned that dredging the river deeper for shipping would be challenging due to potential implications for the environment, river hydrology and the stability of existing crossings.

Container ship approaches Deltaport to offload cargo.  Photo – Port Metro Vancouver

Just Posted

AW Neill Elementary School in Port Alberni. (NEWS FILE PHOTO)
SD70 chooses new name for AW Neill School in Port Alberni

New name honours Nuu-chah-nulth Peoples’ connection to region

Douglas Holmes, current Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District chief administrative officer, is set to take on that position at the Regional District of Nanaimo come late August. (Submitted photo)
Regional District of Nanaimo’s next CAO keen to work on building partnerships

Douglas Holmes to take over top administrator role with RDN this summer

Ron MacDonald fields questions at a news conference in Halifax on Sept. 27, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Finding ‘comfortable’ indigenous monitor tough task in Tofino-area shooting death

Julian Jones case hampered by difficulty finding a civilian comfortable with privacy protocols

Port Alberni RCMP officer in command Insp. Eric Rochette presents longtime community policing volunteer Louie Aumair with a OIC appreciation certificate. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Port Alberni RCMP honour longtime volunteer

First responders receive support from broader community

The Dock+ is located on Harbour Road in Port Alberni. (SUSAN QUINN / Alberni Valley News)
PROGRESS 2021: Port Alberni’s food hub still growing a year later

The Dock hopes to open a retail store on Alberni’s busy waterfront

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read