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Maritime Policy & Management

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Canadian container ports: how have they fared? How will they do?
ROBERT J. McCALLA a a Department of Geography, Saint Mary's University, hali, Nova Scotia, Canada

To cite this Article McCALLA, ROBERT J.(1994) 'Canadian container ports: how have they fared? How will they do?',

Maritime Policy & Management, 21: 3, 207 217 To link to this Article: DOI: 10.1080/03088839400000044 URL:


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MARIT. POL. MGMT., 1994, VOL. 2 I, NO. 3, 207-2 17

Canadian container ports: how have they fared? How will they do?
ROBERT J. McCALLA Department of Geography, Saint Mary's University, Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 3C3, Canada Between 1980 and 1989'containerTEUs handled at all world ports increased by a factor of 2.11. On the East Coast of North America, the growth factor was only 1.69; on the West Coast, 2.23. These growth factors, when multiplied by the 1980 TEU volume at individual North American ports, give 1989 expected performance levels for the ports. Comparing the expected performance to the actual, it is found in the Canadian context that the big winner is Vancouver; the big loser is Saint John. Halifax and Montreal have outperformed their nearest US East Coast rivals but have not performed as well as southern ports on the Atlantic Seaboard. These and other comparisons are made in order to describe how Canadian container ports have performed in the decade of the 1980s. The paper then speculates on how the ports will do in the future, based on a discussion of five factors: port facilities; inland transportation connections; shipping lines serving the ports; demand for container shipping; and legal arrangements between the United States and Canada.

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1. Introduction This paper discusses the performance of Canadian container ports in the 1980s, with emphasis on the big three: Halifax, Montreal and Vancouver. The paper compares the performance of these ports as measured by the number of TEUs handled, first at a global scale and then at the regional levels of East Coast North America and West Coast North America. However, past performance provides only half the paper's purpose. The other half considers the future. Will Canadian container ports continue to perform at past levels, or does the future suggest optimism or pessimism? The paper will show that the 1980s was a decade of growth and expansion for some, but decline for others. It was a period of shake-up. The future holds more of the same with an air of pessimism, certainly challenge, hanging over the prospects. Although Containerization International Yearbook (CIY) lists seven Canadian container ports, only three-Halifax, Montreal, and Vancouver-effectively serve Canadian international container requirements today. The other four ports-Saint John and St. John's on the East Coast, Toronto on Lake Ontario, and Fraser Port on the West Coast--either serve international areas in a very limited way or act as feeder ports to the larger international ports. Saint John and Fraser Port fall into the first category; St. John's into the second. It is misleading to suggest that Toronto is a container port at all since it does not have a dedicated container terminal or fixed shore-based equipment to handle containers. The early history of Canadian container port development can be found in Wallace [I]. Timely treatments on developments in specific regions can be found in Forward [2] for Vancouver and the west coast, McCalla [3] for Halifax, Saint John, and Atlantic Canada, and Dupont et al. [4] for Montreal and the St. Lawrence River.

0308-8839194 $10.00 O 1994 Taylor & Francis Ltd.

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2. How have Canadian container ports done in the 1980s? In 1980 the world's ports handled 37.163 million TEUs [5]; in 1989 that figure had risen to 78.470 million TEUs [6]. Of these totals Canadian ports handled 0.757 million (2.04%) and 1.433 million (1.83%) TEUs in the two respective years. In other words, container handling in the 1980s increased by a factor of 2.1 1 times on the world scale, but only at a rate of 1.89 times in Canada. For comparison sake, the growth factor for United States ports for the same time period was 1.69. Both Canada and the United States did not keep up with world trends in container handling, not because of any negative indigenous North American factor, but because all latent demand for container handling within the North American market had been met by 1980, and growth in the 1980s reflected expansion in existing markets served by North American container ports. On the other hand, the higher global rate of growth can be attributed largely to containerization growth in East and South Asia and expansion into, and therefore satisfaction of a latent demand in, areas such as the Indian subcontinent, South America, and Africa, which had limited containerization at the beginning of the decade. It is instructive to divide the North American container ports not into Canadian ones and American ones, but into East Coast North America and West Coast North America (figure 1). By so doing comparisons can be made into how Canadian ports performed relative to their American competition. Such comparisons are relevant when discussing future prospects for

San F r a n c ~ s c o

Charleston ( S C )

Figure 1. North American container ports: West Coast and East Coast.

Canadian container ports


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Canadian container ports. On the East Coast, the growth factor in the 1980s in container handling at ports from St. John's, Newfoundland, to Miami, Florida, was 1.69; on the West Coast, from Anchorage, Alaska, to San Diego, California, it was 2.23. The East Coast grew more slowly than the world rate; the West Coast, more rapidly. These differences reflect the growing importance of West Coast operations and their connections across the Pacific to East and South Asia. The lower East Coast growth factor is indicative of a relative slow-down in the growth of East Coast trade, especially with East and South Asia, whose traffic is being handled increasingly by West Coast ports and hauled by rail to central and eastern markets. What of individual Canadian ports? How have they performed relative to global and North American levels of container handling in the 1980s? How have they performed relative to their American rivals? Which ports have outperformed others? Which have lagged behind? Such questions can be answered by comparing actual 1989 container handling performance with expected performance for that year. The expected performance for 1989 is determined by multiplying the actual 1980 performance in TEUs handled by the growth factors noted above. Table 1 shows Canadian container port performance relative to world growth rates; table 2 shows performance within the East Coast North American context; table 3 shows performance for the West Coast. relative to world growth factor (table 1 ) 2.1. Pe~orrnance When comparing Canadian container port performance to the world growth factor, only St. John's and Vancouver performed above the world norm. The growth at St. John's is accounted for by domestic cargo handling in containers, or indirect international shipments passing through Halifax, and not direct international connections. There are no scheduled international shipments of containers tolfrom St. John's. St. John's is within the sphere of Halifax, acting as a feeder port to Halifax. It also receives containerized traffic direct from Montreal. On the other hand, Vancouver has experienced a relatively high growth rate reflecting its location on the West Coast. As noted above, the growth factor for West Coast North America container handling has been greater than the world rate for the 1980s, and Vancouver has benefited from this increased container trade. Canada's other container ports have not performed at the world level. Although Halifax and Montreal have experienced increases in the number of containers handled, and relative to other ports on the East Coast they have done very well (table 2 and below), the increases do not match world growth factor expectations. Halifax and Montreal have grown for different reasons. Halifax expanded as a port of call on round-the-world services; Montreal,
Table 1. Canadian container port performance (TEUs) in the 1980s relative to world growth factor of 2.11.

1980 Actual (TEU) 26 881 127 947 226 41 1 281 117 87 420

1989 Expected? (TEU) 56 719 269 968 477 727 593 157 184 456

1989 Actual

1989 actual- 1989 expected (difference as % of 1989 expected) +32 664 +35 720 -21 396 -70 706 -165 330 (+57.6) (+ 13.2) (-4.4) (-1 1.9) (-89.6)

St John's Vancouver Halifax Montreal Saint John

89 383 305 688 457 33 1 522 45 1 19 126

?Expected TEU amounts determined by multiplying 1980 actual TEU by 2.1 1 (the world growth rate factor). Note: Toronto and Fraser Port have not been included because of insignificant amounts of containers handled. For Toronto in 1980 = 5 128 TEU; for Fraser Port in 1980 = 2363 TEU. Source: Actual TEU amounts from Conrainerization Intemarional Yearbook (1982, 1991).

because of its proven performance as the cheapest way for containers to pass tolfrom Europe and Midwest North America. Saint John performed dismally in the 1980s, especially since 1986. In fact, of all the container ports on both coasts of North America, Saint John experienced the most severe decline relative to the world growth factor. This decline is accounted for largely by the withdrawal of Japanese carriers from the Canadian East Coast and the transfer of shipping lines from Saint John to Halifax [7]. 2.2. Performance relative to East Coast North America growth factor (table 2 ) Overall, container ports on the East Coast of North America have not performed as well as world container growth in the 1980s. However, intraregionally, some ports have done remarkably well (e.g., Miami, St. John's, and Charleston, SC) while others have stagnated (New York) or lost ground (Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Saint John). On the Canadian scene, Halifax and Montreal have outperformed expectations when compared to the overall East Coast North America growth factor; this is in contrast to expectations based on the world growth factor, just discussed. Performance of Halifax and Montreal relative to the closest American competition deserves comment. The American container ports nearest the two Canadian ports are Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. Three of them-New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore-are direct competitors for containers passing through Halifax and Montreal. Boston is less of a threat because of its relatively small hinterland. For example, Boston makes no attempt to compete for Canadian or Midwest American traffic which lies in the competitive hinterland of the two Canadian and other three American ports. As noted in table 2, Halifax and Montreal have outperformed their immediate American rivals. Halifax has grown mainly because of the round-the-world services which emerged during the 1980s. Such lines as Maersk, Evergreen, and the consortium of Neptune OrientIOOCWK Line began serving Halifax. Along with these new services, lines such as ACL, HapagLloyd, and Polish Ocean Lines serving European markets continued to call and even expand services. For some lines Halifax was both the first and last port of call in North America. The deep water at Halifax, the opening of a new terminal (Ceres), and the efficient handling
Table 2. East Coast container port performance (TEUs) in the 1980s relative to East Coast North America growth factor of 1.69 (Canadian ports in bold).
Port 1980 Actual (TEu) 1989 Expected? (TEU) 1989 Actual 1989 actual - 1989 expected (TEU) (difference as % of 1989 expected)

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Miami 98 320 St John's 26 881 Charleston, S.C. 339 634 Halifax 226 411 Savannah 200 886 Hampton Roads 352 981 Montreal 281 117 Jacksonville 140 539 Boston 83 341 New York 1 947 000 Baltimore 663 000 Philadelphia 129 001 Saint John 87 420
tExpected TEU amounts determined by multiplying 1980 actual TEU by 1.69 (the East Coast North America growth factor). Source: Actual TEU amounts from Containerization International Yearbook (1982,1991).

Canadian container ports

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of containers both at dockside and by CN Rail to make the connection tolfrom markets in central Canada and the Midwest United States all contributed to Halifax's improved performance. There was also the transfer of lines from Saint John (see below). Montreal's growth can be explained relative to losses at Baltimore and Philadelphia, and to some extent, the stagnation at New York. Montreal is dedicated to serving North Atlantic trade. Its North American hinterland extends not only throughout central and western Canada for European destined and originating goods, but also into the lucrative Midwest United States-to such states as Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, and Indiana [8]. This is the very area from which Baltimore and, to a lesser extent, New York and Philadelphia, derive much of their container cargo. By serving these areas through Montreal, shippers avoid the longer sea journeys tolfrom Europe associated with Baltimore and Philadelphia, and high costs and delays at New York. The intermodality practiced by Canada Maritime (a consortium involving C P Ships, which in turn is associated with CPRail and various trucking companies owned by the parent Canadian Pacific Company) and Cast, two of the big carriers serving Montreal, gave Montreal an initial advantage over its American rivals in the early 1980s in handling through cargo in containers [9]. The port itself has also been aggressive in expanding facilities to serve the increased cargoes. Montreal has also not suffered-like its American East Coast competitors-the loss of Asian cargo to West Coast ports, for such Asian cargo has never been part of Montreal's operations. Saint John is but a shadow of what it was in terms of container handling. For a time in the 1970s, Halifax and Saint John competed head to head, and Saint John was a legitimate rival. Although Saint John could not compete with Halifax on the North Atlantic trade-it being more convenient and less costly for carriers to call at Halifax rather than proceed around Nova Scotia into the Bay of Fundy to call at Saint John-Saint John was able to compete with Halifax on trades arriving from the Panama Canal (frornlto Australasia and East Asia). However, with the pullback of the Japanese lines to New York, Saint John was left, at best, as a feeder port to New York or bypassed altogether by direct truck service from New York to central Canada. Saint John suffered further with the decision by many Pacific carriers to serve central and eastern North American markets through West Coast ports and double stack rail operations. Also, when ACTIPace (serving Saint John) combined with Columbus Lines (serving Halifax) in 1985 and the consortium decided to call only at Halifax, Saint John lost its major carrier tolfrom Australia.

2.3. Peflormance relative to West Coast North America growth factor (table 3) Vancouver dominates Canadian West Coast port activity, not only in containers, but in every facet of waterborne trade [lo]. In the container trades, Vancouver did well in the 1980s. Not only did it grow more rapidly than the world average, but it also outperformed expectations within the West Coast North America region. Its positive rate of performance on the West Coast is in contrast to its nearest and greatest rival, Seattle. However, in absolute terms, Vancouver still trails far behind both Seattle and nearby Tacoma in the number of containers handled. In relative terms, Tacoma, Los Angeles, and Long Beach all grew at much greater rates than Vancouver; in fact, Tacoma's relative performance in container growth is the greatest of all container ports in North America in the 1980s. Vancouver's performance in the 1980s was hard won. It required addition of cranes and berths at the two container terminals-Vanterm and Centerm; improvement of truck access to the terminals; increase in wood products and specialty grains, such as alfalfa, lentils, and peas which are able to be containerized, creating 'new' export container cargo; provision of Canada's first double stack rail service, in this instance, between Vancouver and Toronto;

R. J. McCalla
Table 3. West Coast container port performance (TEUs) in the 1980s relative to West Coast North America growth factor of 2.23 (Canadian ports in bold).

Port Tacoma Los Angeles Long Beach Vancouver Portland Oakland Seattle San Francisco

1980 Actual 1989 Expected? 1989 Actual 1989 actual - 1989 expected (TEU) (TEU) (TEU) (difference as % of 1989 expected) 106 409 632 784 488 682 127 947 93 015 782 175 781 563 87 500 237 292 1411 108 1 089 761 285 322 207 423 1 744 250 1 742 885 195 125 924 974 2 056 629 1 545 243 305 688 186 027 1 090 597 1 040 890 113500 +687 682 +645 521 +455 482 +20 366 -21 396 -653 653 -701 995 -81 625 (+289.8) (+45.7) (+41.8) (+7.1) (-1 1.5) (-37.5) (-40.3) (-4 1.8)

'(Expected TEU amounts determined by multiplying 1980 actual by 2.23 (the West Coast North America growth factor). Source: Actual TEU amounts from Conrainerization International Yearbook (1982, 1991).
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and elimination of the 'container clause' in the labor agreement between unions and management in which longshoremen were reserved the work of stuffing and stripping containers within a 50-mile radius of the waterfront, all contributed to Vancouver's success. But the port still trails well behind its Puget Sound rivals, mainly because Vancouver is primarily a Canadian port serving a relatively small Canadian market. By contrast, the Puget Sound ports and the other West Coast American container ports serve both the Canadian and much larger American markets. The key to Vancouver's success in the future lies in its being able to serve, even partially, that large American market.

3. What of the future? how will Canadian ports fare? It is impossible to know with any certainty the dimensions of Canadian container port performance in the 1990s and beyond. But we can speculate on the factors that influence container port performance and discuss how these factors can be expected to affect Canadian container ports. For purposes of this discussion, the important influencing factors are:
(a) port facilities;
(b) inland transportation connections;

(c) shipping lines serving the ports;

(d) demand for container shipping;

(e) diversion of containers between Canada and the United States. T o simplify discussion, only the ports of Halifax, Montreal and Vancouver will be considered.
3.1 . Port facilities In order for ports to respond to the container needs of shippers, they must have the necessary infrastructure to handle containers. This is the one factor that the port can control amongst the many factors that determine the success of a container port. Failure to provide infrastructure and respond to shippers' needs spells the doom of any port. The required infrastructure consists of facilities on the land (roads, railroads) and water (dredged channels, aids to navigation), as well as the actual terminal interface with gantry cranes, yard cranes and container storage areas, and increasingly an ED1 system to track the containers. It is taken, as a given, that ports competing for container traffic will have this infrastructure in place.

Canadian containerports


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Beyond this, the work force will be hard working and efficient, there will be good labor relations between unions and management, and the container terminal must provide reliable and responsive service to the container lines. How do Canadian container ports measure up to these needs? Is there a possibility that the ports will fail to provide the necessary infrastructure and level of service required in the future? The short answers are, respectively: very well and no. The facilities at Halifax, Montreal, and Vancouver are state-of-the-art. Further, the workforce is first class, and laborlmanagement relations are good. While there have been moments in all three ports where labor relations have been strained, both labor and management continue to pursue the same goal of providing a first-class service to shippers. If container handling declines in the future, it will not be for lack of facilities or level of service. In order for container handling to expand though, it is axiomatic that the infrastructure perform to its maximum efficiency. In the future, we might expect the ports to continue to upgrade what they already have. This will not be simply tinkering with technology; it will include construction of new terminals (e.g., expansion to Contrecouer in Montreal's case) when demand warrants it. 3.2. Inland transportation connections Inland transportation connections are something that a port cannot control; yet they are crucial to the continued growth of Canadian container ports. Because of the continental nature and linear distribution of Canadian settlement, and therefore, ultimately, the origins and destinations of containers passing through Canadian ports, road and rail connections to the ports of Halifax, Montreal, and Vancouver are probably the most important factor in the well-being of these ports. A case can be made that rail transport is more important than road. This is particularly the case for Halifax and Vancouver which are each far removed from the central markets of North America. Conversely, Montreal lies in the midst of a large productive market which can be served by truck, but it too depends on rail transport for connections to the American Midwest. The case at Halifax is most acute. With only CN serving the port, there is a lack of direct competitive pressure for the railway to improve its service and pricing. Indirectly, such competition exists through the other options shippers have to reach the same market that Halifax serves, that is, through Montreal, New York, and other American East Coast ports. Without rail competition, it took protracted time for CN to introduce double stack service. Vancouver is also dependent on its rail connections; but, in this case, there is direct competition between CN and CP, with the latter handling about 70% of those containers passing tolfrom the port by rail [I I]. In total, for 1989, rail handled about 43% of all Vancouver containers [12]. The first Canadian double stack service was introduced at Vancouver, but it trailed behind by at least three years introduction of such service f r o d t o American West Coast ports [I 31. The main difficulty with Vancouver/central Canadadouble stack service in comparison with equivalent American service is that, although there is sufficient demand for such service for import traffic (consumer goods such as clothing or electronics and knocked-down car bodies and parts for Japanese assembly plants in central Canada), there is not an attractive backhaul. By contrast, in the United States, domestic shipping to the West Coast as well as export traffic from manufacturers in the East and Midwest has balanced incoming goods from East and South Asia. The key to Vancouver's future container success lies in getting a slice of the American market, a not unlikely possibility. CP Rail, with its acquisition of the American Soo Line, now controls a direct linkage totfrom Chicago and the surrounding area. This might be the key that enables Vancouver to gain access to that market; if successful, Vancouver might

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not only recapture Canadian cargo which is handled by American West Coast ports, but also divert cargo from those ports. However, to do so will require the cooperation of the shipping lines, by making Vancouver their first and last North American port of call, rather than, as is the current practice, the final port of call. It will also depend on the ability of the railroads to compete head-on with American rail. With the current taxation levels and higher operating costs in Canada, this seems doubtful, at least in the short term [14]. One of the positive forces at work in the future vis-h-vis Canadian railroads serving the intermodal needs of Canadian ports is that both CN and CP can offer same line service coast to coast. In a landbridge operation between Europe and East Asia with North America in the middle, such service could prove attractive. By contrast, in the United States there is no transcontinental intermodal service offered by a single railroad company. On the negative side, competition from an American railroad recently acquired by CP Rail threatens both Halifax and Montreal. The railroad in question is the Delaware and Hudson which serves Philadelphia and New Jersey and provides direct rail access to Canada. Before acquisition of this line there was no real rail competition from American East Coast ports to Canadian markets. It is CP Rail's intention to provide intermodal rail service on this line that may attract Canadian traffic which otherwise would have passed through either Montreal or Halifax. In sum, there is little doubt that the railroads play a key part in the success of Canadian container ports; such a role will increase in the future. If the railroads fail to respond in such a way as the ports require, then container throughput at the ports will be placed in jeopardy. On the other hand, even if the railroads act aggressively to serve the needs of the ports, there is no guarantee that the ports will benefit, for other factors are also involved.
3.3. Shipping lines serving the ports It is axiomatic that shipping lines make or break a port. Without the lines, the port's raison d'Crre is lost. Unfortunately for the ports, ships are flexible in choosing which ports they serve. For this reason, ports are forever watchful of what the shipping lines are doing and saying. When shipping lines consolidate or pool their services; when lines decide that fewer port calls will be made on a particular coast or that a particular service will be abandoned altogether; when new vessels enter service which are too large or specialized for existing port infrastmcture; or when more ships are available than required to handle the existing tonnage. In the'1970s and 1980s, Canadian container ports both prospered and suffered because of the actions of shipping lines. It is reasonable to assume that such will be the case in the 1990s. The fate of Saint John was largely the result of Japanese shipping lines deciding that they could serve the Canadian market better, not through Saint John, but through either New York or West Coast American ports. Also affecting Saint John negatively was the consolidation of ACTIPace with Columbus and the decision to make only one Canadian East Coast port call, at Halifax. Subsequently, Halifax was affected negatively with Columbus' withdrawal of service from the Canadian East Coast entirely. However, Halifax benefited by the decisions of Maersk, Evergreen, and the consortium of NOLIOOCLIK Line when it decided to call Halifax on round-the-world services. Montreal benefited at the expense of Halifax when Dart moved its services to Montreal. Cast was an early Halifax customer in the 1970s, but it too moved to Montreal. ACL and Hapag-Lloyd, acting in a cargo sharing agreement, moved half of their East Coast Canada port calls from Halifax to Montreal in 1991. On the West Coast, Evergreen, FESCO, and COSCO started new services at Vancouver in the 1980s, but these were countered with the withdrawal of services by Barber Blue Sea, Farrell, Hoegh Lines, and Columbus.

Canadian container ports


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We might expect much the same thing to happen in the 1990s. Consider first the East Coast and North Atlantic service. A severe overtonnage exists, with no significant reduction expected [15]. It stands to reason that there will be more cargo sharing as each line tries to fill its vessels to capacity. It is also foreseen that new larger vessels, up to and including post-Panamax size, will be placed into service to replace an ageing fleet. As this happens, there is the possibility that fewer ports will be served directly. It is conceivable that Halifax will be bypassed for New York, and that Montreal will be bypassed for Halifax or New York. Montreal has a severe constraint in limited water depth (35 feet) on the St. Lawrence, meaning that vessels larger than 2500 TEU capacity cannot serve the port. Halifax, on the other hand, has sufficient water depth and will not be bypassed because of this factor. It is the land connections which weight most heavily there. The Pacific Ocean also suffer from recent excess capacity running at around 20 to 25% [16]. The 1980s saw unprecedented growth and expansion in container trade involving West Coast North America and East Asia. It is unlikely that the 1990s can approach this surge of activity. Mergers and slot sharing might be expected. Such action, by itself, does not bode well for Vancouver, since it is a minor player on the West Coast compared to the giants to the south. With shipping lines increasingly involved intermodalism through ownership of double stack rail cars and investment in rail and truck companies, and with such intermodalism focused on American ports, any merger or acquisition involving carriers serving West Coast ports will reflect negatively on Vancouver where intermodal operations are less well developed. There will be a continued shuffling of who owns whom and who is cooperating with whom in the container shipping business. As this juggling occurs, lines will drop service entirely or reduce frequency of service to certain ports. But history has shown that when one line leaves, another comes in to fill the perceived opportunity. Halifax, Montreal, and Vancouver are all vulnerable to losing lines. On the positive side though, they are also available for new lines. It is difficult, if not impossible, to predict which of these possibilities will become reality. 3.4. Demand for container shipping All other things being equal, the throughput of containers at any port is dependent on the demand for shipping goods by container, which, in turn, is a function of the health of the economy. To some extent the designation of what types of goods can be containerized also affects demand. When containerization was introduced, it was aimed at speeding up the movement of general cargo. With its adoption worldwide, containerization has come to dominate not only how manufactured and semi-processed goods are moved at sea but increasingly commodities which were never thought to be 'containerizable' . Goods such as peat moss, speciality grains like alfalfa or oats, such foods as fish, blueberries, and meat carcasses, even granite slabs are now carried in containers. The future of Canadian container port throughput is dependent on the future of the world economy, especially in North America, East Asia, and Europe. These are the areas where the vast majority of containers passing through Canadian ports originate or are destined. Hence, how the economies of these areas perform will determine container demand through Canadian ports. In other words, it is not just a matter of the health of the Canadian economy alone which determines Canadian container port performance. T o predict growth (or decline) in the Canadian economy, let alone the economies of the United States, Japan, Germany, and other countries is beyond the scope of this paper. It is the expectation of ports, inland transportation companies, and shipping lines that demand for containerization

services will increase in the future. While it is difficult to anticipate change, it is in the interests of the ports to be ready to respond. 3.5. Diversion of containers Passage of Canadian trade through American ports and American trade through Canadian ports is a long-standing practice [17]. This, of course, includes containerized cargo as well as other commodity movements. Currently, containers in bond pass freely across the borders of these two countries. Thus, there is no impingement on containers entering one country's ports and passing into the other. Such a situation works to the advantage of Montreal, where slightly less than one-half of all its containers originate in or are destined for the United States. It is estimated that the annual volume of American container traffic handled at Canadian ports was between 250 000 and 300 000 TEUs [18], the majority of which are handled through Montreal, and to a lesser extent, Halifax. This is to the detriment of American ports such as Baltimore and New York. Conversely, Canadian ports, Vancouver particularly, lose cargo to American ports. A recent estimate is that 270 000 TEUs of Canadian container traffic were routed via US ports in 1989 [19]. For the most part, this cargo passes through American West Coast ports at the expense of Vancouver. Thus, in the East, Canada benefits from cargo diversion while in the West, the opposite situation prevails. As long as there is relative balance between diverted cargoes on the two coasts, it is unlikely that any legislative action will be taken by either country to curtail the diversions. What does it mean for the future of Canadian container ports? Container ports are well equipped and productivity is high, and it is expected that such characteristics will continue into the future. It is unlikely that the infrastructure and operations of the ports will impact negatively on their futures. One cannot be so optimistic about inland transportation connections. Heavy dependence on the railways means that maintaining current container tonnage or attracting new future traffic is not merely a matter of port operations and performance. Also, what the shipping lines decide is beyond a port's control, although the port does influence that decision by its performance. The port is also powerless to control the state of the economy and demand for container services. Finally, the port is dependent on the lawmakers to ensure that the overall 'rules' that govern transportation are fair. Of the variables which affect the container port's future, the port controls only its own operations. It must work closely with the other players to make certain its interests and those of its users are heard.

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5. Conclusion In the 1980s some Canadian container ports outperformed world levels of container growth, spme outperformed North American regional growth rates, and some performed below world and regional performance levels. The big 'winners' were St. John's and Vancouver; respectable performances were achieved by Halifax and Montreal; but the big 'loser' was Saint John. The future for Canadian container ports is controlled by factors beyond each port's control. Notwithstanding this precarious position, it is likely that the ports of Halifax, Montreal, and Vancouver will continue to perform much as they have in the past. There is too much vested interest to allow them to fail. The ports will be aggressive in their marketing;

Canadian container ports


they will ensure that they operate at the highest efficiencies possible; and they will increasingly cooperate with rail and shipping companies to ensure that they maintain their hold o n the cargoes they now handle while seeking to attract new ones. The future will be a challenge for the ports, but one they should be capable of meeting.

Refe!rences and notes

1. WALLACE, I. (1975), Containerization at Canadian ports, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 65(3), 433448. FORWARD, C. (1984), Water transportation in Pacific Canada: Overview and contemporary issues, Coastal Canada: East-West Comparisons, edited by D. Day and P. Ricketts (Halifax: Saint Mary's University, Department of Geography), Studies in Marine and Coastal Geography, No. 4, pp. 50-70. MCCALLA, R. (1984). Water transport in Atlantic Canada: overview and contemporary issues, Coastal Canada, op. cit., pp. 71-89. DUPONT, N., LAREAU, J. and LASSERRE, J.-C. (1979), La conteneurisation du trafic maritime au Que'bec. (MontrCal: DCpartement de GCographie, UniversitC de MontrCal), Notes et Documents, NO. 79-02. ContainerizationInternational Yearbook (1982), London: National Magazine Company Limited. Containerization International Yearbook (1991). MCCALLA, R. (1991), 'Halifax and Saint John containerization: does geography count? Paper presented at Annual Meeting, Canadian Association of Geographers, Kingston, Ontario. SLACK, B. (1989), Gateway or cul-de-sac? The St. Lawrence River and Eastern Canadian container trade. Etudes Canadiennes, 26,49-55. DAGENAIS, M . MARTIN, F. (1985), Forecasting Containerized Trafficforthe Port ofMontreal (1981-1995) (Montreal: Departement de Science Economique et Centre de Reserche et Developpement en Economique, Cahier 8504, UniversitC de MontrCal). FORWARD, C. (1984), The overwhelming dominance of the port of Vancouver on Canada's West Coast, in Seaport Systems and Spatial Change, edited by B . Hoyle and D. Hilling (Chichester: Wiley), pp. 343-360. CANADA PORTS CORPORATION (1991). Towards a Canadian Intermodal System: Recommendations for Change (Ottawa: Canada Ports Corporation), p. 38. Ibid. FLEMING, D. (1989), On the beaten track: a view of West Coast container port competition. Maritime Policy and Management, 16(2), 93-107. For a full discussion of the disparity in costs between US and Canadian rail operations, see CANADA PORTS CORPORATION, (1991) 0 p . cit., pp. 86-88. Op. tit., p. 69. CANADA PORTS CORPORATION, Ibid., p. 71. FAIVRE, J. (1985), Canadian and American Oceanborne Trade through Each Other's Ports: Research Report No. 1985104E (Ottawa: Canadian Transport Commission, Research Branch) M. T ,(1986), Recent Trends in Canadian and American Overseas Trade and ~ C H A M B A U L Through Each Other's Ports. Ottawa: Canadian Transport Commission. CANADA PORTS CORPORATION, op. cit., p. 56. Ibid.

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