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Container terminal moves into Riverport

Waterstone Pier resident Alan Slater isn’t happy with the increase in truck traffic and obstructed views a new container facility is bringing to Riverport. The facility’s operator said the facility is alleviating marine terminal congestion and assisting the movement of goods across Canada.  - Matthew Hoekstra
Waterstone Pier resident Alan Slater isn’t happy with the increase in truck traffic and obstructed views a new container facility is bringing to Riverport. The facility’s operator said the facility is alleviating marine terminal congestion and assisting the movement of goods across Canada.
— image credit: Matthew Hoekstra

A Richmond riverside property long used to park imported vehicles has been turned into a round-the-clock container terminal—much to the chagrin of one of its neighbours.

Harbour Link announced Monday it has established Port Metro Vancouver’s first container node to handle shipping containers at 14000 Steveston Hwy., steps away from the apartment buildings of Riverport Flats and Waterstone Pier. The operation is serving as a “buffer zone” to help alleviate marine terminal congestion caused by the recent truck drivers’ labour dispute and severe winter weather in Canada that’s hampering rail carriers, according to Harbour Link’s website.

The firm set up operations in five days and has a long-term plan to “establish a better supply chain solution for the seamless flow” of shipping containers. Operating hours “will be dovetailed to match the 24/7 container relay requirements” of ship schedules.

As a dozen trucks waited for loads Tuesday morning, Waterstone resident Alan Slater said he’s been watching a steady stream of rigs enter the facility, where shipping containers are stacked three-high and stored next to the road—across from the new six-storey Riverport Flats rental apartment building.

“There are a ton more trucks, a lot more noise,” said Slater, who believes the dramatic change in view and industrial noise has already lowered his property value. “If I was the owner of the two rental buildings, I’d be panicking. I can’t believe how ugly it is.”

Harbour Link president David Payne said his firm has a one-year lease on the property and it will be “primarily a daytime operation.”

“It’s a clean operation. We don’t handle anything other than dry cargo there,” he said. “We operate a facility just like that one in Delta in the Tilbury area. Our main objective and goal is always to be a good citizen to our neighbours.”

Payne doesn’t anticipate an increase in noise from his operation, noting stacked containers should provide a sound buffer.

“We intend to operate that facility smoothly and have a concern for our neighbours around us,” he said. “It’s all about being good citizens.”

Fraser Wharves Ltd. ceased operation in December, following the sale of its 26.6-hectare (65.6-acre) Steveston Highway properties to Port Metro Vancouver March 15, 2013. It was the first of two automobile terminals to operate on the Fraser River, importing approximately 200,000 Japanese and General Motors vehicles each year. Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics has assumed auto terminal operations on the western side of the Steveston Highway site.

Port Metro Vancouver also owns land on the other side of Waterstone Pier, intended for a jet fuel offloading facility as part of a $100-million pipeline to the airport.

A proposal to further industrialize the area is underway at the northwest corner of Steveston Highway and No. 6 Road. Steveston No. 6 Limited Partnership has applied to rezone vacant land to allow a warehouse distribution centre.

The land is zoned for agriculture and entertainment uses.

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