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Environmental Initiatives and Programs

Noise Monitoring
Habitat Enhancement
Marine Mammals
Our approach to sustainability
2013 Sustainability Report

Sustainable Gateway Initiative
In 2013, we launched an initiative to define and develop a shared understanding of what a sustainable gateway looks like and to integrate this definition into our business planning. With the help of an external advisory panel, comprising customers, supply chain stakeholders, industry associations, government, First Nations, communities, non-government organizations and academic institutions, we created our draft Sustainable Gateway Definition.

Over the second phase of engagement in 2014, we will share our draft definition, raise awareness and better understand other stakeholder views and interests. Our intent is to integrate the definition into our planning and operations, using it to help us structure and report on our sustainability performance in the future. See for more information.


Port Metro Vancouver is committed to improving air quality and protecting human health by implementing emissions reduction initiatives that address port activities. We are leading the way for other ports to address air quality and climate change, by focusing on the use of technologies and the promotion of operational efficiencies to reduce air emissions.

  • Air Action Program
    Port Metro Vancouver’s Air Action Program works to reduce emissions now and as we grow to help maintain good air quality for the future. The program received an ecoFREIGHT Sustainable Transportation Award at the 2010 GLOBE Conference. The award recognized the Port for its leadership in addressing the impact of freight transportation on the environment.  Key components of the program are detailed below.
  • EcoAction Program
    The EcoAction Program promotes attainable emissions reduction goals for ocean-going vessels that enter the port, and rewards those who excel in environmental stewardship. In 2010, we launched the Blue Circle Award for the EcoAction Program for Shipping, a user-friendly financial incentive for shipping lines that reduce emissions of their ocean-going vessels.
  • Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy
    Port Metro Vancouver is working with the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma to address port-related contributions to air quality and climate change in the Georgia Basin Puget Sound air shed through the Northwest Port's Clean Air Strategy. The project has the support of Environment Canada, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, B.C. Ministry of Environment, the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency and the Washington State Department of Ecology, developed the Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy. The strategy includes emission reduction performance goals for port-related sources. We also collaborate with national and international stakeholders to ensure the programs in place have a lasting effect. More information: Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy, 2007News release: Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy, 2013Implementation reports - 2008|2009|2010|2011|2012
  • Truck Licensing System
    Starting in 2008, Port Metro Vancouver introduced increasingly stringent environmental requirements for container trucks accessing port property. Requirements of the Truck Licensing System focus on the phasing out of older trucks, mandatory opacity and idling limits and an awareness program. Consistent with the Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy, the requirements will bring the fleet up to the equivalent of a 2007 truck for particulate matter emissions. The program is part of the Non-Road Diesel Emissions Initiative. Learn more about Non-Road Diesel Emissions (NRDE) Initiative.
  • Canada Place Shore Power
    In 2009, Port Metro Vancouver became the first port in Canada and third in the world to install shore power for cruise ships, allowing ships to shut down their diesel engines and connect to a land-based electrical grid while docked at Canada Place. During the time a cruise ship is plugged into shore power at Canada Place, it saves in greenhouse gases the equivalent of removing 80 cars from the road. Learn more about Shore Power at Canada Place


Port Metro Vancouver’s jurisdiction encompasses approximately 640 kilometres of shoreline. It extends from Point Roberts at the Canada / U.S. border north to Burrard Inlet and Indian Arm, and east along the lower Fraser and Pitt Rivers to the Fraser Valley. The lands along this shoreline are used for a variety of purposes ranging from port operations and commercial enterprises to residential developments and parkland.

We work with environmental agencies and various levels of government to identify potential risks to the environment that are associated with port operations. Where environmental risks are identified, we take action and work with our partners to eliminate or mitigate those impacts.

  • Environmental Assessments
    We require our tenants to conduct baseline environmental assessments to measure the environmental condition of the leased property at the start of their tenancy, and again at the end or renewal of their tenancy.
  • Conservation
    Located in North Vancouver, Maplewood Flats is a 24-hectare upland site preserved by Port Metro Vancouver as a conservation area. The area is located on the Pacific Flyway and is a great place for local birdwatchers to see nature up close.
  • Parks and Recreation
    Port Metro Vancouver borders more than 30 waterfront port-side parks, such as New Brighton Park which was created jointly by Port Metro Vancouver and the City of Vancouver and features a playground, outdoor pool and tennis courts.


Protecting marine habitat and water quality is an important part of our environmental programs at Port Metro Vancouver. We were the first port in Canada to assign a dedicated team to environmental issues and have introduced many innovative programs.

  • Gabions
    To create habitat for small ocean creations like coon-striped shrimp, our team creates and places gabions – rocks wrapped in wire mesh – on flat areas around some of the port’s terminals.
  • Caissons
    Caissons are hollow concrete blocks with holes which are placed under terminal berths to allow fish, crabs, shrimp, amphipods, sea stars and other marine organisms to seek refuge from predators and occasionally rough water. Refugia are holes in the sides of some caissons, allowing marine life access to the interior of the caissons.
  • Habitat benches
    Port Metro Vancouver builds habitat benches at a specific elevation to create the necessary condition for vegetation to grow. These benches are planted underwater and colonize naturally. The vegetation has numerous benefits, including supporting shelter and food for fish. 

Noise Monitoring

Complaints about noise are among the more common complaints we receive. While some noise cannot be helped, Port Metro Vancouver works with terminal operators to find solutions to noise issues. Port Metro Vancouver’s Noise Monitoring Program allows us to obtain and record existing noise levels to help us gain a better understanding of the noise environment in port communities and help us identify where operational improvements might be possible to help reduce that noise. Learn more about the Noise Monitoring Program.

Habitat Enhancement

The Habitat Enhancement Program is a Port Metro Vancouver initiative focused on creating and enhancing fish and wildlife habitat. The program is a proactive measure intended to provide a balance between a healthy environment and future development projects that may be required for port operations. Learn more about the Habitat Enhancement Program.

Marine Mammals

The ECHO Program has been established by Port Metro Vancouver, in collaboration with government agencies, First Nations, marine industry users, non-government organizations and scientific experts, to better understand and manage the potential impacts to cetaceans (whales, porpoises and dolphins) from commercial vessel activities throughout the southern coast of British Columbia. Learn more about the ECHO program.

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