Disruptions in the supply chain show the importance of being resilient

Vancouver Port Authority CEO Robin Silvester says recent floods combined with other simultaneous emergencies have shown the need for adaptation to respond to climate change in Canada.

BC’s recent storms and consequent disruptions in the supply chain have shown the need to respond to climate change challenges, according to the Port of Vancouver’s CEO.

Robin Silvester on Thursday praised the CN and CP railway companies for restoring service between the west coast and the rest of Canada within eight days of the floods.

“The port was affected,” Silvester told a packed Vancouver hotel ballroom, the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade’s first pandemic hybrid event.

He said a disturbance in the port of Vancouver, Canada’s largest, is affecting the entire country.

Silvester said the need to respond to challenges that climate change presents or will present in future emergencies is now “urgent.”

“We know the future must include decarbonization,” Silvester said, noting several projects in which the port is participating to reduce emissions from its operations.

Silvester said the port of Vancouver has coped with several crises in the last 20 months, but has to deal with climate adaptation, shortages of industrial land and shortages of shipping containers.

He called the time “tumultuous”; they have shown the port what needs to be done for shockproof operations, he said.

But, Silvester said, “the port has remained remarkably fluid, and trade has actually grown over the period.”

The CEO noted that infrastructure investment across a range of partners, including industry and government, has helped with this flexibility.

But he warned that the port is facing a growing shortage of industrial land.

“We do not have enough land around the port for transhipment and container shortages.”

What this means, he explained, is that big shippers like Amazon will look elsewhere.

It also means goods can be shipped to Toronto and then back to Vancouver by plane, resulting in greater greenhouse gas emissions, he said.

“I have sounded the alarm about the looming land shortage. It is here.”

“We have the lowest availability of industrial buildings in North America,” he continued.

Silvester stressed that the federal government will soon have to approve the Roberts Bank 2 container facility in Tsawwassen in order to handle trade claims. The project is still under federal environmental assessment.

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