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Will Delta be home to new cruise ship terminal?

The port authority is still early into its analysis after things were delayed last year due to the pandemic
cruise ship terminal delta
A cruise ship terminal could be located on existing land along the Fraser River if the port decides to move ahead with expansion.

Delta could find itself home to a new cruise ship terminal several years from now.

For more than two years the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority has been looking into the feasibility of building a new terminal in Delta, but things were put on hold last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The port had been looking into the idea of building a second Lower Mainland cruise ship terminal on the banks of the Fraser River, already having conducted a preliminary study looking at potential sites in Delta or Richmond.

It’s an analysis that was driven by growth in cruise volumes and cruise lines using bigger ships.

Port president and CEO Robin Silvester recently told the Optimist they are continuing to hear interest in increased capacity from the industry now that it has started to get back on its feet.

“We’re at the stage where we’re starting to have conversations again about longer-term capacity plans. We’re not at the level of detail where we’re picking a site but the good news is we’re starting those conversations again,” said Silvester.

“Realistically, I think we probably have a two-year gap, a couple of years behind where we would have probably been otherwise as the industry grows back up to capacity in Alaska, but the good news is there is some definite interest in the industry in long-term growth and capacity requirements as a result.”

The Vancouver cruise industry is a key contributor to the local economy, stimulating $3.17 million in direct economic activity for each ship that calls at Canada Place, and $2.2 billion of total economic impact, the port authority states.

The cruise season doesn’t usually begin until April and it will be a welcome boost when it commences again, said Silvester, adding they’re currently focused on restarting the season with industry partners.

On another front, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski is pushing to make permanent a temporary exemption from a U.S. maritime law for Alaska cruises.

The senator submitted the Cruising for Alaska’s Workforce Act in the U.S. Senate on Sept. 23 that would see passenger ships leaving U.S. ports given a permanent exemption from the Passenger Vessel Services Act.

The act stipulates those ships must stop at a foreign port on their way to Alaska.

Most of those vessels have stopovers in Vancouver.

A temporary exemption had been granted for this past cruise season following Transport Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada earlier this year granting an extension of cruise restrictions in this country.

The ban was to be in place until Feb. 22, 2022.

Canada's Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra this summer announced an intention to end the ban on cruise ships carrying more than 100 passengers from docking at Canadian ports on Nov. 1, 2021, several months ahead of schedule.