The Canadian Government has announced construction of two new state-of-the-art container examination facilities at Port Metro Vancouver that will be aimed at making Canada the “gateway of choice” for North America-Asia trade.
The investment of Cdn$49.9-million in the two new marine container examination facilities will be necessary to meet the anticipated growth in container volume through Vancouver the announcement said and is part of combined investments by Ottawa and the port of nearly $106-million that is part of the Government of Canada’s commitment to the ‘Beyond the Border Action Plan’, entered into by Prime Minister Harper and President Obama in 2011.
The new facilities will handle work that is now being carried out by a single, smaller facility located a considerable distance from the port’s four container terminals.
In addition to speeding up container traffic through the terminals and reducing truck emissions, the new security facilities will provide jobs to Tsawwassen First Nations workers at the Deltaport inspection facility. The facility fits into the Tsawwassen First Nation industrial lands strategy that was developed shortly after the Tsawwassen band became a Treaty First Nation.The land use plan designated 135-hectares for industrial development with proximity to four railroads and major highways making it a prime location for industrial and commercial activities, mostly associated with Deltaport, including goods handling, light manufacturing, warehousing and distribution. In addition to providing land for the development of the Deltaport logistics centre the band has also launched construction of a major shopping mall and housing development on nearby land and the provision of a Tsawwassen Gateway Skills Centre to provide training for native people interested in the transportation industry and careers in transportation logistics and inventory management.
In jointly announcing the plan to build the two new inspection facilities Robin Silvester, President and CEO of Port Metro Vancouver said: “These projects are a great example of what collaboration can accomplish. Together, the Government of Canada, Tsawwassen First Nation and Port Metro Vancouver are working to strengthen the security and efficiency of our gateway, while improving the environment and quality of life in our communities.” “Once operational, the facility will reduce travel time and related emissions by a factor of 10 and since the facility is located on TFN lands, it is anticipated that there will be both construction and full-time employment opportunities available to TFN members.”
The container inspection facilities announcement did not specify what improvements will be made to Canada Border Services container inspections. However, a security audit, completed in December 2012 made several recommendations for improvements that should be made in port security: Review and improve the effectiveness of the TITAN (the risk scoring methodology for marine container targeting) implement a cost-effective, statistically sound electronic system which receives electronic advance commercial information and scores it for risk. The audit said: “Companies wishing to import containerized marine cargo into Canada must electronically submit Advance Commercial Information (ACI) about the shipment to the Agency, as required by the Customs Act and the Reporting of Imported Goods Regulations. This information is first submitted in the Accelerated Commercial Release Operations Support System (ACROSS) and then fed into the Agency’s TITAN electronic risk assessment system. ACROSS is the mainframe system used for receiving and processing data from trade chain clients. TITAN, introduced in 2004, allows targeters to view transmitted data prior to arrival in order to make decisions on whether to further examine containers destined for Canada. TITAN calculates a risk score for each container from zero to 100 and the scores are used for assisting targeting officers in making referrals”.
They [the targeters] monitor to ensure examination results are accurately and consistently recorded in TITAN; clarify and communicate how the penalty regime is applied; review and improve security marine container handling and storage; strengthen controls (sensitive information not included); and confirm and monitor the timetable to demonstrate the benefits realization of the Bay Plan Initiative.
Management response to the audit was favourable saying: “The Programs Branch agrees with the recommendations provided by this audit. We recognize that there are areas for improvement, which will further enhance the safeguarding of Canadians and the movement of cargo through Canada’s marine ports. To strengthen border controls at marine ports of entry, the Programs Branch will improve the risk scoring methodology for marine container targeting, and develop monitoring controls to ensure that examination results are accurately and consistently recorded in TITAN. In addition, mandatory reporting requirements under the Bay Plan Initiative TITAN will enable the Agency to verify the declaration of marine containers on a vessel against advance information submitted to the Agency. The Programs Branch will monitor compliance.
The new inspection facilities will serve two purposes: First, they will ease American concerns about security. Secondly, they will ready Canada’s largest port for the continued expansion of China and other emerging Asia-Pacific countries.
Ottawa is committing $46.6-million to provide Canada Border Services Agency personnel to staff the two facilities and will also cover the costs to equip them with detection technology, including two Large Scale Imaging (LSI) detection technology devices.
The Honorable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade said in a statement: “These new devices will be used to more effectively mitigate and identify containers requiring full inspections (i.e. de-stuffing).
“Furthermore, other new technology such as pallet LSI and other smaller detection tools will also be purchased to help in the inspections of goods being de-stuffed.”
Ottawa pledged another $3.3-million to assist in the construction of the Roberts Bank facility with Port Metro Vancouver covering the bulk of the construction costs.