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Robin Silvester to leave Vancouver Fraser Port Authority CEO post

Silvester had led Canada's largest port authority for 14 years
Robin Silvester left his native England to work in Vancouver to helm P&O Ports Canada in 2003

Canada's largest port authority is seeking a new CEO after news that longtime leader Robin Silvester is leaving for what he called "a new challenge."

Silvester, who has has helmed the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority (VFPA) for 14 years, said that now is a good time to leave the post because the federal government in April approved the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project – his most significant priority in the past decade. 

"With support from our partners, we have delivered over $1 billion of infrastructure over the last decade and a half," he said. "The port authority has a strong leadership team to lead it into the future, and I want to thank the entire port team for their contributions to our collective success."

He will stay in his post for an unspecified period of time while the port authority embarks on a global search for its new CEO.

Silvester is a board member of the Association of Canadian Port Authorities, a vice-president representing North America at the International Association of Ports and Harbors and an executive member and chair of the Greater Vancouver Gateway Council.

BIV had included Silvester in its annual BC500 list of the 500 most influential British Columbians.

Silvester, now in his late 50s, took charge at the port authority in 2009, when it was formed through a merger of three port authorities that had overseen Lower Mainland port operations. The economy was sputtering thanks to the Great Financial Crisis, even though the 2010 Winter Olympics was on the horizon and was providing an economic boost.

Port authority investments have helped increase international trade by about 40 per cent, according to the port authority. 

"Robin's leadership has been a critical part of the port authority's leadership in sustainability, including programs to protect the environment and enable thriving communities," the port authority said in a statement. 

Silvester arrived in Vancouver from his native U.K. in 2003 to become president and CEO of P&O Ports Canada, a company formed earlier that year when London-based P&O Ports bought Canadian Stevedoring and the Centerm container terminal.

His experience at the time included work in the chemical and steel industries in England. He helped create Corus, which became Tata Steel Group, in the late 1990s, when he was at British Steel.

One challenge that will be on Silvester's successor's plate is whether to continue investigating whether there needs to be a second cruise-ship terminal in the region. 

Silvester in early May told Glacier Media that creating a new cruise-ship terminal in Delta remains a possibility

Pre-pandemic, the port was looking into how feasible it would be to create a second cruise-ship terminal on the banks of the Fraser River, and potential sites in Delta or Richmond were highlighted.

Driving the potential project was the industry's increasing use of cruise ships that are too large to sail under the Lions Gate Bridge.

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