Canada’s farmers and the agriculture industry provide a safe and continuous supply of food to consumers in Canada and globally.
As a Canada Port Authority, we also have a role in the movement of this food supply through the Port of Vancouver by helping ensure infrastructure is in place to address cargo bottlenecks and accommodate the growth we are seeing, and expecting, from the agriculture industry.
For more than a decade, there has been substantial investment in the port and the surrounding gateway to the benefit of all port terminals, with much of that investment directly serving the grain sector, and in turn supporting farmers in getting their goods to market in a competitive and timely way.
Though only obligated to ensure trade-enabling infrastructure within our jurisdiction, the port authority has led the identification, prioritization, and construction of several road and rail projects in and beyond the port to increase the capacity of the transportation network. We have provided hundreds of millions of dollars in up-front investment and secured significant additional funding from governments, rail companies, and municipalities.
One example is the Low Level Road project in North Vancouver, which added to the rail lines that serve grain, potash, and coal terminals, among others.
As a result of the new capacity, over the last decade the port authority has conducted environmental reviews and issued permits for about $1 billion in major investments by port grain terminals to increase their operations, and the new G3 terminal was built, the first new grain terminal in Vancouver in a generation.
Because of our collective investments — and the ability of Canadian farmers to grow and harvest to meet growing global demand — grain terminals have been moving record volumes of grain through the port. Last year marked the eighth in a row that a new record was set for grain cargo exports.
Grain, specialty crops, and feed cargo made up 35 million tonnes of the total 145 million tonnes of cargo moved through the Port of Vancouver in 2020, nearly double the amount shipped in 2011. The estimated value of the cargo also doubled in the past decade, from about $5.7 billion in 2011 to just over $11.3 billion in 2020.
To accommodate the growth forecasted for the grain and agriculture sector, we are committed to continue investing and building the infrastructure necessary to accommodate trade, in support of all port users, including farmers and agriculture businesses who rely on the port to move their harvest efficiently and remain competitive.
We are currently leading several rail expansion projects that will directly benefit port grain terminals.
Farmers are the backbone of the agricultural system, and the export of agricultural products is critical to this gateway and to Canada.
We recognize the essential role of farmers to Canadians and our trading partners, as we have for decades.
With continued investment in infrastructure, while maintaining a fluid supply chain, we are confident the port will continue to play its role as Canada’s gateway for agricultural exports to the world, long into the future.
Robin Silvester is president and chief executive officer of the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority.