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Port of Vancouver looking into feasibility of cruise ship terminal on Fraser River

A cruise ship terminal could be built on the banks of the Fraser River in Delta.

 File photoAs cruise ships get ever bigger, Port of Vancouver is challenged to accomodate them at Canada Place and is now looking to other locations, such as Richmond and Delta’s Roberts Bank. The Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas, above, will become the biggest cruise ship on the seas when it launches next April. File photo

A cruise ship terminal could be built on the banks of the Fraser River in Delta.

Still saying it’s early in the process and no decision has been made to even proceed with a second Lower Mainland cruise ship terminal, the Port of Vancouver has been looking at the feasibility of a new facility in Delta or Richmond.

The port has conducted a preliminary study on potential sites.

Port president and CEO Robin Silvester told the Optimist building a man-made island, as will be the case for the proposed Terminal 2 container facility at Roberts Bank, would be an enormous undertaking, so a cruise ship terminal on existing land along the Fraser could be a good option.

He said the port will have more to say on the idea of a new cruise ship terminal early next year.

“It’s a long process and there’s no easy answer. It would be a long-term project, not a short-term project, and there’s a lot of work going on. We’re still in the pretty early stages, but we are looking at the feasibility of a site on the Fraser River,” said Silvester.

“We are looking at all the options but if we wanted to something in the medium-term, it would need to be an option based on where we have land available. So, we’re looking at the medium-term while still doing conceptual work on the very long-term as well.”

Silvester told the Delta Chamber of Commerce last fall the cruise ship industry has been on a stable growth trend, one which has resulted in the port investing millions to improve the Canada Place terminal in Downtown Vancouver. However, it’s going to get harder to accommodate the new, much bigger cruise ships.

Last year, for example, the Port of Vancouver welcomed the Norwegian Bliss, a cruise ship that accommodates more than 4,000 passengers and is the largest cruise ship ever to visit Vancouver.

According to the port, Vancouver welcomed more than 900,000 cruise passengers on 243 ship visits in 2018, a seven per cent increase in passenger volume over the previous year.

Cruise is a key economic driver for the region as each cruise ship adds about $3 million to the local economy, the port says.

The port last week released its mid-year stats which indicate cruise passenger traffic is up 15.1 per cent for the first half of 2019.