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Richmond city council questions port’s planned temporary container storage facility

The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority will be setting up a temporary empty container storage facility in Richmond to help address supply chain bottlenecks
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The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority will be using a 40-acre parcel of land at the foot of No. 8 Road in Richmond as a temporary empty container storage site, which has sparked concern among city councillors

A temporary empty container facility coming to the foot of No. 8 Road has raised concerns among city councillors — but the city doesn’t have much say on what the port does on its own lands.

The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority plans to use an undeveloped 40-acre parcel near the south arm of the Fraser River as storage to help address supply chain bottlenecks, which have created delays and service challenges at the port’s container facilities. Marine terminals have also been delaying vessels and restricting export container deliveries.

The federal government announced in late November that it will be contributing up to $4.1 million, through the National Trade Corridors Fund, to the project in the wake of the recent flooding in B.C.

Coun. Carol Day raised the issue at a recent committee meeting, saying she doesn’t think it is the right location for storing containers.

“If it’s just storing empty containers…I don’t see why they couldn’t go to Ashcroft,” Day said. “I don’t see why we’d want to litter the side of the Fraser River in Richmond and I worry where this will lead to down the road.”

At the committee meeting, councillors asked staff to discuss the site with the port authority and report back.

However, Coun. Alexa Loo pointed out the port needs to move goods and get food onto shelves. However, she did agree more information was needed.

“I don’t think it’s up to us to try and grind that to a halt. I think it’s up to us to understand more of what’s happening…but I don’t think it’s up to us to further shut down supply coming into Canada,” Loo said.

Coun. Michael Wolfe, meanwhile, pointed out the area appears to be near an environmentally sensitive area (ESA).

According to the Richmond Interactive Map, there is an intertidal and shoreline ESA near the site. Both shoreline and intertidal zones are important, for example, for fish and wildlife habitat and the protection of Richmond’s dykes and other infrastructure.

Mayor Malcolm Brodie said asking the port about the site will give a better idea what its plans are, how they will proceed with it and what kind of input council can give.

However, city spokesperson Clay Adams told the Richmond News that, because the land is port property, the city is “restricted in what happens to such parcels.”