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Temporary empty container storage facility in Richmond now open

The site was set up by the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority with funding from the federal government to help address supply chain bottlenecks
A temporary empty container storage facility is now open in Richmond on port lands.

A temporary empty container storage facility in Richmond, meant to help ease supply chain bottlenecks, is now open.

Following last November’s atmospheric river and flooding, the federal government announced it was contributing up to $4.1 million to the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority for the project.

The 40-acre site, on Portside Road at the end of No. 8 Road, will help speed up the supply chain and reduce “unnecessary truck trips” across the city by trucks looking for a place to offload their empty containers, according to Matthew May, president of Western Intermodex, one of the operators of the site.

“It (the extra storage land) gets containers off the port terminals, and when they get off the port terminals and the ships move faster – everything kind of gets back into a bit more of a fluid motion,” said May.

That hopefully means, he added, that goods won’t be “sitting out at ocean, on anchor for 10 or 12 days,” waiting for a spot to be unloaded.

But May noted the site is “only one part of the puzzle” when it comes to supply chain bottlenecks.

“This was one piece. Getting the highways open and goods moving again as they were, is another piece. And getting through winter and the challenges and the delays that winter causes, albeit every year, will be another challenge,” he said.

“Over the next number of weeks, I think, things will start to become a lot more fluid.”

When it was first announced that the site would be used to store containers, Richmond city councillors raised concerns, including environmental concerns and whether the site was the right location for storing the containers.

City spokesperson Clay Adams said the city has asked the port to consider scheduling trucks to arrive outside of peak hours to reduce impacts to businesses in the area.

The port is also required to have environmental monitoring in place and comply with environmental regulations, and city staff will meet regularly with the port to discuss impacts to businesses, traffic and other services while the site is in use.

May said the site should be used for a maximum of six months, and when fully opened at the end of this month will be able to hold about 7,000 40-foot containers.

“We’ve been monitoring the volume pretty closely so we’re very comfortable that we’ll be able to make sure that we’re not having any disruptions to traffic,” he said.

All traffic will arrive and depart via road – meaning there won’t be any increase in traffic on the Fraser River.