Port Authority

Posted by Daniel on Apr 29, 2009

Chuck Davis gets out and about:

Had a fun night at the public meeting of the Vancouver Historical Society on Thursday night, April 24 at the Museum. Rory Babin, a young representative of Port Metro Vancouver (the relatively new name for the body created when the three local port authorities merged in 2008) gave the audience of about 80 people a history of the port, well illustrated by some good Power Point images.

He ran into some early (and friendly) flak with a few minor mistakes of dates and facts, called out helpfully by the audience. We’re a tough bunch! He took it all in amiable style and promised he’d fix things. We heard a lot of interesting stats on the Port: 16 municipalities border on the Port; we ship to 130 different economies, and 115 million tonnes went through in 2008. We learned it’s a private company with a federal mandate, that the difference between “bulk freight” and “break bulk freight” is that bulk freight is stuff that is poured into hulls, like wheat and coal, potash and sulphur, while break bulk is stuff that is picked up by cranes and lowered into ships, like lumber and containers.

Some new container-carrying ships are too wide at 22 containers abreast for the Panama Canal, which can only handle 18-container-wide vessels. So they’re confined to trans-Pacific voyages, and they come in to our Centerm terminal. (The Panama, incidentally, is being widened.)

News to many of us, including me: when cars from Asia arrive at the Port they are basic, and “value added” features like air conditioning and radios are added in workshops at the terminal! (They can, by the way, unload 5,000 cars in four hours.)

Rory urged us to go out to UBC and look at the Chung Collection in the new library, which has all kinds of historic images of the Port and related subjects. And he also suggested we visit the Port’s free public presentation theatre at the north end of Canada Place.

Another great discovery: every drop of Japan’s Kirin Beer (a personal favorite) is made from Canadian barley shipped through Vancouver.