Port Metro Vancouver an Economic Bright Spot for BC

October 14, 2014
Jock Finlayson

The transportation and logistics industry centred in Greater Vancouver comprises a big part the region’s economic and employment base and also makes significant contributions to the larger BC economy. So it is encouraging to learn that business has been rebounding at Port Metro Vancouver – the most important piece of the Greater Vancouver Gateway cluster.

The data show that PMV handled 135 million tonnes of cargo in 2013, which marked a 9% gain from the year before. The table below summarizes the volumes of cargo handled by category. In dollar terms, PMV trades about $175 billion in goods annually.

Overview of PMV Cargo Volumes

* 1 Vehicle Unit = 1 Metric Tonne
Source: Port Metro Vancouver, Statistics Overview 2013.

Metric Tonnes 2011 2012 2013 % change
Auto * 298,113 383,933 378,883 -1%
Breakbulk 16,052,952 16,684,240 17,051,196 2%
Bulk 84,473,949 83,786,056 92,735,975 11%
Containerized 21,674,616 23,022,655 24,843,824 8%
Total Tonnage 122,499,631 123,876,885 135,009,878 9%
Auto (Units) * 298,113 383,933 378,883 -1%
Containers (TEUs) 2,507,032 2,713,160 2,825,475 4%
Cruise Passengers 663,425 666,240 812,398 22%
Foreign Vessel Arrivals 3,024 3,080 3,166 3%

So far 2014 is shaping up to be another solid year for the port – which is good news for the hundreds of businesses that are linked to or otherwise depend on its operations. Through August, the volume of cargo moved through PMV was up 4.4% year-to-date, versus the same period in 2013. Cargo imports were 6.0% higher, while cargo exports rose 4.0%. Total container tonnage handled at PMV is running 4.5% above the year ago level.

Industry analysts confirm that, despite the recent disruptions caused by the dispute with truckers, PMV has been taking market share from US west coast gateways, aided by both a lower Canadian dollar and the efficiency and productivity gains – such as reduced ship dwell times – which PMV has made in recent years. This should augur well for the port’s business going forward.

The Business Council’s medium-term economic forecast for BC assumes that activity at PMV will continue to increase, as the global economy slowly strengthens and as the port itself proceeds with capital expansion plans and pursues further opportunities to improve services for its customers.

According to a recent study, the total economic contributions of PMV and the businesses linked to it amount to almost $10 billion in direct GDP, $6 billion in wages, and close to 100,000 jobs. These benefits are distributed across the country, but a substantial portion of them accrues to residents, businesses and governments in BC and the lower mainland.

By any measure, PMV ranks as one of the main economic engines for the lower mainland and BC as a whole.

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