Concerns raised over Port of Vancouver expansion

Expansion plan shows seven acre extension of the terminal westward, in front of CRAB Park.

Most people living downtown probably give it little thought, but the Port of Vancouver is the country’s largest port, handling over $75 billion of cargo annually and contributing $10.5 billion to the economy.

The port supports 47,000 jobs in B.C. and 129,500 across Canada, and is embarking on a major expansion to increase the number of containers handled at its Centerm facility on the Downtown Eastside by two-thirds.

The $320 million project will include extending the terminal area as seen in the renderings below as well as road and rail access improvements. Waterfront Road will be extended eastward to Centennial Road, providing a continuous connection for port traffic from the Main Street overpass to Highway #1. The road extension should take some of the pressure off McGill/Dundas/Powell streets as well as Clark Drive.

However, the extension of the terminal is proving to be controversial in the Downtown Eastside, as the expansion will impact views from CRAB Park at the foot of Main Street.

CRAB Park was established in the late 1980s after a series of protests by the Downtown Eastside community and its namesake is an acronym meaning “Create a Real Available Beach.”

MP Jenny Kwan has met with port officials to voice the community’s concerns, telling CBC News “the park is sacred for the (Downtown Eastside) community.”

Birds eye view of the Port of Vancouver today.

A rally against the expansion plans is planned for June 11. Opponents say the port plans to put “seven acres of landfill in the water directly in front of CRAB Park,” which they say will block views and reduce water flow. They also worry that the expansion will increase noise and pollution in the area.

The expansion plan still needs to pass an environmental review. If the project is approved, construction will begin early 2017, with completion in late 2019.