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Standing committee gets up close with Pacific ports

VANCOUVER, B.C. -- The Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications travelled to the West Coast from M...


VANCOUVER, B.C. — The Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications travelled to the West Coast from March 12 to 15, as part of its examination of current and potential future containerized freight traffic.

The committee is studying the container traffic handled at the Pacific Gateway, east coast and central container ports, and the major inbound and outbound markets served by them.

By consulting concerned parties across Canada, the Committee plans to determine whether changes should be made to federal policy to improve efficiency and increase the capacity of the containerized transport system.

We want to make sure that Canadian exporters and importers are well positioned to move their containerized shipments to and through Canadas ports and that Canadians benefit from a more efficient transportation system, said Senator Lise Bacon, chair of the committee. The Committee will take all the information submitted into consideration when making recommendations to the government.

Container traffic between North America and Asia alone is expected to grow from 15.3 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in 2003 to 33.5 million TEUs in 2015. By 2020, the value of this containerized trade is expected to reach $75 billion, contributing $10.5 billion to the Canadian economy each year.

As transportation is priced into goods purchased by Canadians, the committee is exploring ways to make container transport more efficient, resulting in lower costs.

During its two-days of hearings on the West Coast, the committee heard that, just as B.C. competes with US West Coast cities like Seattle, Tacoma, San Francisco and Los Angeles for gateway business, Canadas transportation infrastructure poses additional challenges to the countrys competitive position in the world market.

The committee heard from more than 20 witnesses during its trip and visited Deltaport, Coast2000 and Burrard Inlet terminals. Witnesses appearing before the committee included representatives from the trucking sector, organized labour, research groups, terminal operators, port authorities and municipalities.

We learned lots on this trip, not only about how the ports are adjusting to the growth in container traffic, but also some of the problems they are experiencing in matching the level of exports to imports and the challenges they face dealing with bottlenecks, said Senator David Tkachuk, deputy chair of the committee.

The committee is planning to visit Halifax and Montreal ports this spring to further its understanding of the container industry, imports-exports and Canadas share of growing international trade. The report on containerized freight traffic is to be tabled in the Senate before the end of the year.


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