March 14, 2023
The Port of Vancouver – Canada’s Pacific Gateway

Capt. Shri Madiwal

Marine Operations and Harbour Master

Captain Shri Madiwal has over 25 years of extensive experience in the marine transportation sector in multiple roles at sea and shore management.

He joined the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority in 2019 as the Harbour Master. In his role, Shri is responsible for all facets of the port marine logistics and operations. He is leading the development and implementation of the Active Vessel Traffic Management initiative for the port authority.

During his sea career, he served as a Captain on large oil tankers internationally. He has a wide-ranging experience in national and international shipping and port logistics.

Shri holds Master Mariner certificates of competency from India and Canada, and a Master in Business Administration from the Beedie School of Business at Simon Fraser University

Transcription of Presentation.

Tim Sehmer introduced our speaker, Captain Shri Madiwal.

The Port of Vancouver, also known as the Vancouver-Fraser Port Authority, is a federal agency established under the Canada Marine Act. Serviced by three railroads, it is the largest port in Canada in both size and cargo flow. Serving 16 of the most populous municipalities in BC and several first nations, the Port of Vancouver is also the most diversified port in North America, operating over five business sectors, including automobile, container, cruise, bulk, and breakbulk project cargo.

Through meaningful dialogue, shared aspiration and collective ac-countability, the various sectors strive to achieve their vision of being the world’s most sustainable port. Their approach to sustain-ability focuses on three pillars: economic prosperity through trade, thriving communities and healthy environment. Their mandate is to enable Canada’s trade objectives, ensuring safety, environmental protection and consideration for local communities. Meeting this mandate is often a difficult and complex task, however. Every municipality, every sector and every pillar has multiple conflicting priorities that the Port has to balance on a day-to-day basis.

The Port spends a significant amount of time on engagement and consultation as part of reconciliation with First Nations. Currently, they have three long-term relationship agreements with First Nations. The Port also contributes to thriving communities with a variety of projects. In terms of community investment, they invest 1% of the revenue they generate back into the community. The entire Canada Place Corporation is also a subsidiary of the Vancouver Fraser-Port Authority, so they manage many of the city’s major events.

The pillar of healthy environments is described as healthy ecosystems, climate action and responsible practices. The Port Authority supports many habitat enhancement programs to help maintain healthy ecosystems throughout the region, including the New Brighton Park Shoreline Restoration and the Marine Maplewood Restoration projects. Their award-winning ECHO Program coordinates seasonal underwater noise reduction efforts to support the recovery of the southern resident killer whale populations. Now in its ninth year, this voluntary program has over 90% participation. Given its success, the program is now standard with the International Maritime Organization.

In order to reduce emissions from port-related activities, the Port Authority works with other terminals and their tenants to implement new technologies and cleaner fuels. For example, most of the cruise ships and container ships currently use BC’s low-emission hydroelectric shore power. They also incentivize shipping companies to reduce their environmental footprint by offering discounted harbour dues for cleaner and quieter ships through the Port’s EcoAction program. While sometimes delayed because of political interference, the Port is also trying to disincentivize the use of older, high-polluting vehicles.

With international trade contributing to over 50% of Canada’s GDP, guest speaker Shri focused most of the presentation on the pillar of economic prosperity through trade. This pillar is described as competitive business, effective workforce, and strategic investment and asset management.
With over $240 billion in goods being traded through Vancouver, what happens at the Port Authority is critical for supporting the quality of life for all Canadians. The global pandemic, climate change, and geopolitical uncertainty heavily impacted supply chains, which are now a major topic in the daily lives of Canadians with soaring gas prices and food costs. Labour shortages are causing challenges in reliability and resiliency in the trading sector, which are crucial in today’s world of next-day Amazon deliveries. Last year, the minister set up a National Supply Chain Summit with a task force to cope with the recent challenges. BC has food, water and energy, which are critical given the geopolitical tensions.
On the positive side, Canada’s grain, coal and potash exports are now in high demand. The cruise sector predictably dipped during the pandemic but has rebounded, with 815,000 passengers last year and an anticipated 1.2 million passengers this year. Strong future growth volumes are forecasted through the Port of Vancouver, with total cargo volumes across all sectors projected to grow at a Compounded Annual Growth Rate of 4.8% between 2023 and 2027. This growth means that the Port needs to add one new grain terminal every year to keep up, presenting a considerable sustainability challenge regarding container capacity on the west coast. Despite the existing expansion projects underway (e.g. Fairview, the Fraser River, DP world), the Port predicts running out of space by 2026/27. The risk of businesses moving south is significant. Given Vancouver’s proximity to Asia, focusing on the Port’s Indo-Pacific strategy is critical. BC’s lack of industrial land is one of the biggest challenges. Many businesses are already moving to Calgary and elsewhere because they just can’t find the space to operate in BC. This challenge could be addressed through changes to the policies of the Agricultural Lands Reserve and facilitating investment in terminal infrastructure through projects like the Centerm Expansion and RBT2.

The Port also coordinates with the federal, provincial, and municipal governments to build infrastructure like bridges and overpass-es, which improve the first and last mile of deliveries where much time and efficiency is lost. These projects also contribute to their thriving communities pillar by reducing road congestion.

While historically not taking a significant role in this regard, the Port saw how capacity constraints and supply chain challenges were hurting stakeholders, like small businesses, who are not rep-resented in planning discussions. Now, the Port is stepping up to take a leading role in supply chain efficiency. Following the task force’s key recommendation, the Port is developing a Supply Chain Optimization Program that capitalizes on the growth opportunity and alleviates complex constraints. They are also working on im-proving their traffic management so that vessels don’t linger at the port longer than they need to, improving efficiency and traffic in the port while reducing GHG emissions and underwater noise pollution.

Morley Strachan thanked Shri and presented him with a cheque for the Mission to Seafarers.