The Prairie provinces are the main source of Canada’s natural resources and global exports. They produce more than 98.9 million metric tonnes of export cargo that flows through the Port of Vancouver.
From this port the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba ship about $78 billion worth of exports each year. However, representation on the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority (VFPA) Board of Directors fails to represent this regional diversity. Currently, the Prairie Provinces are represented by 9% of the board – although these provinces are responsible for 85% of the port’s export value.
There are significant opportunities for export growth but the port is challenged by points of congestion and land constraints, which could affect the long-term sustainability of the port.
Provinces should be fairly represented to ensure that the specific needs of each region are reflected in our world-class export infrastructure. In short, the representation on the VFPA Board needs to be balanced.
To more fairly reflect the economic realities of the 11-person VFPA Board, it should be restructured in the following manner:
- The federal government appoints 2 members.
- The provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba each appoint 2 members recommended by port users.
- The municipalities that border the port authority’s jurisdiction appoint one member.
The competitiveness of the Port of Vancouver is tremendously important to Western Canada and the entire country. This newly structured board would better reflect the needs of exporters, help grow our economy, and create jobs across Canada at a time when it’s needed most.
Devin Dreeshen served as Minister of Agriculture and Forestry from April 30, 2019 to November 5, 2021.