Port 2050

Since 2010, we have used scenario planning as a strategic tool to test our thinking and challenge our assumptions about the future. Joining us on this journey are those with a stake in the future of the Vancouver Gateway including terminal operators, railways, industry organizations, communities, municipalities, government agencies, and First Nations leaders. Together, we have imagined what our gateway could look like in the next 20 and 40 years.

Four plausible scenarios

We identified four plausible scenarios for the future – these are stories about alternative futures, the futures that “could be”.

Port 2050 matrixKey drivers of change

The building blocks of these scenarios are the key drivers of change that participants told us would be the most influential in shaping the future:

  • Capacity to grow
  • Demographics and shifting social values
  • Energy transition
  • Gateway competitiveness
  • Geopolitical stability
  • Patterns of production and consumption
  • Technological innovation

Each year, we monitor the key drivers of change to prepare for these scenarios and, in collaboration with our partners, are charting a course towards a sustainable gateway that will thrive and prosper, no matter what the future holds.

Scenario axes

In order to develop divergent but plausible scenarios, two important and often likely uncertainties are selected to build the scenarios.

  • Capacity of the Gateway axis: corresponds to issues of competitiveness, infrastructure availability, land use, public support to operate, workforce talent, local economic strength and collaboration between port stakeholders.
  • Global Prosperity Model axis: describes a shift toward a post-carbon economy that emphasizes environmental and social performance through a triple bottom line economy.

Scenario narratives

Scenario  Description 
Port2050-Scenarios_LocalFortress This is a scenario where gateway growth is constrained because the Lower Mainland focuses on the regional economy and local resilience.
Port2050-Scenarios_MissedTheBoat This is a scenario where emerging market growth is strong, but the gateway misses key opportunities and doesn’t live up to expectations, due to problems in the supply chain, poor coordination, lack of community buy-in and diminishing industry support.
Port2050-Scenarios_RisingTide This is a scenario of continued growth, but in a context of increased volatility due to resource conflicts and climate instabilities.
Port2050-Scenarios_GreatTransition This is a scenario where we see a paradigm shift — a rapid transition to a post-industrial/post-carbon model.

Our anticipated future

We believe The Great Transition is a likely scenario and one we believe is worth aspiring to. It represents a shift to a lower carbon economy with a focus on sustainable trade – an ability to accommodate Canada’s trade needs, but at the same time maintain a healthy environment and enable thriving communities.

Several influencing trends have emerged since we originally developed the Port 2050 scenarios in 2010, including:

  • near certainty of climate change and link with human activity
  • a shifting energy landscape with fracking and growing demand of non-carbon sources
  • increasing interest in Vancouver Gateway development by local communities
  • intensification of public debate about major resource projects
  • Supreme Court of Canada ruling on Aboriginal title
  • strong economic expansion following 2008/2009 collapse of financial markets although uncertainty remains
  • increasing discourse about a widening wealth gap

Port 2050 Scenario Refresh – final report (2015)
Port 2050 Scenario Refresh – video (2015)
Port 2050 Scenarios – summary report (2011)
Port 2050 Scenarios – video (2011)