Record Breaking Cargo Demands End to Vancouver Port Strike

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Port Cargo Peaks Around the Corner from Iconic Canada Place

2013 was a record breaking year for the country’s largest port which also owns the title as the busiest, with more traffic flowing in and out than any other in Canada. The Greater Vancouver import/export waterfront hub claimed 135 million tonnes of cargo handled last year. This figure included approximately 25 million tonnes of container held goods.

The rise in demand for Canadian products from Asian countries fueled this industry explosion in 2013. Canadian grain exports to Asia in particular skyrocketed to an all-time high, with early Bloomberg reports evidencing a near 19 million metric tons pushing through the supply chain of our Metro Vancouver port. While there are a slew of Canadian products and materials being demanded by these overseas nations the agricultural sector of the prairie provinces have what Asia wants most and they need to go through Vancouver ports to get it there. To put things in perspective, of Canada’s total grain production nearly half of it is being exported overseas and that all travels through our port.

Last week we discussed how the seasonal retail boom has already increased traffic to and from ports across the continent, Vancouver included. With Asian demand expected to continue breaking cargo records at the Greater Vancouver port for 2014 waterway traffic is about to resemble the 405 in Los Angeles during rush hour. However a bottleneck has already formed due to the current container truck driver strike preventing access to the Greater Vancouver port.

Operations on-site have come to a halt. The big issue, is that the seafaring vessels en route to Vancouver have not. Nor has the feverous demand for our exports. Shipping traffic is desperately seeking to flow to and from Port Metro Vancouver.

As reported in the Maritime Executive today, it looks like the BC Government is about enforce legislation that demands unionized container truck drivers at the port to return to duty while canceling the licenses of non-union drivers that refuse to return to work.

Unifor, the union representing the container drivers, of course considers the anticipated measure to be harsh, setting back the progress made thus far. Analysts however see this potential move as an indicator of how important it is for port operations to return to normal to accommodate the containers in waiting. The economic impact felt by not meeting the current overseas demand for Canadian products is immediate, leading the provincial government to its swift notice to the drivers.

Whether this move will speed up the process to return to status quo or will only hamper progress further down the road remains to be seen. News will make landfall by this coming Monday and the entire industry will take notice, including our industrial packing and crating company which services clients shipping goods from Port Metro Vancouver. No matter the side of the situation, we are all eager to get things moving once again at the port so that we can all reap the benefits of the current economic surge in Vancouver’s, and Canada’s, favor.