Port wants regs change

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VANCOUVER, B.C. – The Port of Vancouver is calling on the provincial government to introduce legislative changes that will make the port more competitive with its U.S. counterparts.

“We’re at a pivotal point in the health of Canada’s ports and their abilities to serve as vital links in Canada’s trading relationships,” says Capt. Gord Houston, president and chief executive officer of the Vancouver Port Authority (VPA).

“We have identified regulatory changes that will enable Vancouver to be the port of choice on the West Coast of North America.”

He adds that without the suggested changes, the Vancouver Port will be unable to compete with other Western ports in the U.S.

“We foresee more erosion in our competitive position, and that has implications for a wide range of Canadian industries and all individual Canadians,” warns Houston.

One of the main requests is better access to capital for infrastructure investments so the port can continue to evolve and remain competitive.

The VPA is calling for an enhanced ability to re-invest in its own infrastructure development with the opportunity to involve public investments.

If the government agrees to the VPA’s suggestions, Houston estimates the Port can employee nearly twice as many people by 2020. It could also see its GDP contribution jump from $3.4 billion o $6.4 billion over that same time frame.

“Currently, we’re mandated to operate on a cost-recovery basis and deliver revenue to various levels of government,” says Houston. “We’re compelled to act on the basis of often narrow and short-term revenue-maximizing considerations and we have only a fraction of the investment capacity of competing ports in the U.S.”

Other legislative amendments being pursued include: allowing full re-investment of operating profits; removing a cap on commercial borrowing; providing ports with the ability to issue tax-exempt bonds; ensuring assets from port land sales are held in trust for future re-investment; removing the prohibition on public investment in port infrastructure; and resolving the issue of payments-in-lieu-of-taxes.

If it gets its way, Houston says the Vancouver Port could experience as much as a 249 per cent increase in container traffic between 2001 and 2020.

“Growth potential on this scale provides compelling support for the regulatory changes we seek,” says Houston.

“We look forward to making this case to the federal government and anticipate strong support from port users and a wide range of other stakeholders.”

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