Inland terminal given a boost

Inland terminal given a boost

Container handling coming to the Ashcroft Terminal is being touted as a potential positive for Delta’s farmland.

Global logistics company Canaan Group announced this month it would commence container handling operations and logistics services at the Ashcroft Terminal starting this year.

Situated about 100 kilometres west of Kamloops along the Thompson River, Ashcroft Terminal is already a busy transloading facility for commodities into railcars, but the container business would be an especially complementary fit for West Coast ports, including Deltaport, said Kleo Landucci, Ashcroft Terminal’s vice-president of project development.

“The question is how does Ashcroft Terminal allow for the support of Port Metro Vancouver’s throughput and how can we do that more efficiently. The product still has to come into the Lower Mainland and it’s driving right past our door right now,” she said.

“Every single rail car on both main lines passes directly through our terminal. So there’s a matching opportunity that can happen, and this is a model that’s successful all over the world.”

Landucci noted the Ashcroft facility has a huge area that could be built out, which means even more opportunities for transloading, while reducing the pressure to develop farmland here to handle that activity.

“There’s all this talk about various infrastructure products to move goods. The one thing that gets left out of those conversations – in our mind the most important – is what’s the cost to the producer. What’s good business for B.C. should be good business for the rest of us, and viceversa.”

Noting a second container terminal in Delta would still be needed to handle growing volumes, a spokesperson for Port Metro Vancouver agreed the inland terminal is a good opportunity because it would be an alternate location where containers could be unloaded to sort out products for their ultimate destinations.

Currently, 70 per cent of containers taken off ships at Deltaport are loaded onto trains and head directly to points east, while 30 per cent are transferred onto trucks.

Five per cent of containers head to the local market in Greater Vancouver via trucks while the other 25 per cent are taken by trucks to storage facilities somewhere in the Lower Mainland for “stuffing and de-stuffing.” That’s where products inside are unloaded, sorted and reloaded into different containers for their final destinations.

As far as exports, it’s the same story with many containers coming in by train to rail yards here and transferred for transportation to the port.

Ashcroft could be an opportunity for that activity, particularly for exports, to occur outside the Lower Mainland, alleviating the pressure for more industrial land while also reducing truck traffic.

However, according to the port, that off-site transloading activity depends on companies seeing a business case to do it in Ashcroft.

The question of the inland port was discussed at Delta’s port community liaison committee last fall, where it was noted by port officials that Ashcroft is inland and a marine shipping terminal would still be needed.

However, since industrial land is in short supply in the Lower Mainland, if Ashcroft can provide that land, it would alleviate the shortage.

It would be up to cargo owners and logistics chain members, though, to make the decision to use Ashcroft.