A packed house on Thursday traveled to the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel in Vancouver to hear from the head of B.C.’s largest port authority, as the province continued to grapple with the resulting supply chain woes by unprecedented floods and landslides.
And on that front, the 13th annual State of the Port Address by Robin Silvester, President and CEO of the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, had good news for shippers.
“The port has been directly affected. Rail service was suspended for eight days, but to date the two main railways operate on the CP line, and CN expects its line to be back in service within the next 24 hours, ” Fraser told attendees.
But despite the short-term improvement in circumstances, Silvester warned that there was work to be done to “ensure the sustainability” of the port.
Impact of flooding in British Columbia on the retail supply chain
“There is a growing urgency regarding discussions on climate adaptation and in particular climate resilience and supply chains,” he said.
Silvester said the current extreme weather crises and the COVID-19 pandemic have shown the need to act quickly to strengthen supply chain coordination nationally and internationally.
And he said an increasingly insufficient industrial land base to support shipping and storage put the port in danger of emulating its Los Angeles counterpart, which is known for its delays.
Ships wait an average of 12 days to dock at the port of LA and wait a dozen more to unload their cargo, he said. In British Columbia, the heist is currently four and four, but Silvester said that is subject to change.
“We have run out of time. It’s midnight. The crisis is here, ”he said.
“With no land near the port to do it quickly and efficiently, shipping companies are simply returning empty containers to Asia, leaving Canadian exporters empty-handed.
Meanwhile, the federal government and the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority have announced that they are working together to address supply chain disruptions. A statement from the federal ministers of transportation and emergency preparedness says the government is contributing up to $ 4.1 million to ease bottlenecks at Vancouver’s ports.
The congestion was caused by the aftermath of flooding which cut off all rail and road travel between Metro Vancouver and the interior of British Columbia.
CP Rail reopens key line between Vancouver and Kamloops after extreme climate disaster
The statement said the plan, led by the port authority, will increase container storage capacity by opening up an undeveloped 16-hectare industrial plot of land in Richmond to hold empty containers.
Wind and rain warnings cover most of British Columbia as the province continues to rebuild after flood damage and braces for more precipitation. British Columbia can expect three episodes of rain over the next few days, with a major storm forecast in the southern part of the province on Tuesday, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said.
“If you find yourself in a flood zone, prepare to evacuate if asked,” he said.
The government has made progress in its recovery as supply chains stabilize, gas shortages begin to ease and some evacuees are allowed to return home. The Canadian Pacific Railway has announced that its first trains have arrived in Vancouver from Kamloops, carrying grain and fuel.
– with files from Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press
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