Active Vessel Traffic Management Program

Phase three engagement for the Active Vessel Traffic Management Program is now closed

From November 1 to 30, 2022, we held phase three engagement for the AVTM Program to seek feedback on:

  • The draft anchorage code of conduct
  • Our approach to information sharing and complaint resolution

Thank you to everyone who provided valuable feedback and attended the open houses and online information session.

We will be sharing a full engagement summary report in early 2023.

To learn more visit:

Contact us
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Email: [email protected]

Collaborating to create a more efficient port 

Cargo volumes through the Port of Vancouver continue to grow, increasing the need to optimize the flow of ship traffic (commercial vessels) in and out of the port. Many parties work together to ensure that trade through the gateway is fluid, which requires careful coordination of ship movements through increasingly busy and confined waterways. 

As defined in our Port Information Guide, tier 1 vessels include: 

  • All piloted vessels and tug and barge combinations when piloted, regardless of tonnage 
  • All non-piloted tug and barge combinations with a barge of 10,000 tonnes or more carrying capacity 
  • All non-piloted vessels ships, including barges and articulated tugs and barges (ATBs) when in product 

The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority is taking an active role in the strategic and operational planning of ship traffic through the port with the development of the Active Vessel Traffic Management (AVTM) Program. We are well positioned to lead this work given our role as shared stewards of the Port of Vancouver and relationship to industry stakeholders within the supply chain. We are working with Transport Canada, Canadian Coast Guard, Pacific Pilotage Authority, and industry, and engaging Indigenous groups, municipalities, community stakeholders, and the public to explore a range of opportunities to increase efficiency and better manage community effects of commercial ship traffic bound for the Port of Vancouver. 

What is active vessel traffic management?

Active vessel traffic management refers to the system that prioritizes and optimizes the movements of tier 1 vessels within the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority’s jurisdiction. The purpose of this system is to ensure ship safety and environmental protection, while also increasing the efficiency of goods movement through the Port of Vancouver.

The new active vessel traffic management system will complement the safety and navigation services currently provided by the Canadian Coast Guard’s Marine Communications and Traffic Services. Marine pilots, who support the ship’s captain by determining the safest route through the Port of Vancouver’s constrained waters to the intended marine terminal, will also continue to play an important role in ensuring safety while following this new system. 

Why is coordinated management of commercial ships important? 

As Canada’s largest port and home to 29 major terminals, the Port of Vancouver handles the most diversified range of cargo in North America: bulk, containers, breakbulk, liquid bulk, automobiles, and cruise. Over 3,000 ships call at the port each year, and with demand predicted to grow, this number will increase.  

With growth comes increased complexity and challenges in managing the efficient movement of ships. Advanced coordinated planning and scheduling is needed to address potential conflicts between a variety of ship types serving different commodity sectors, and other modes of transportation that place demand on waterways. This includes accounting for increasing demand, larger ships, tidal windows, and transit times to and from terminals at the port. 

Five elements of the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority-led Active Vessel Traffic Management Program

The Active Vessel Traffic Management (AVTM) Program will include a set of policies, procedures, practices, incentives, technologies, and data-sharing methodologies to create benefits for all partners and stakeholders. As a wide variety of cargo flows through this diversified port, varying approaches will be necessary for tools and processes. Our AVTM Program includes five integrated elements that will be delivered in stages to support the evolution of ship traffic management at the Port of Vancouver.

Implementing change in high traffic areas 

The program roll out will begin in 2023 with the Second Narrows Traffic Control Zone (TCZ-2) because of the complexity and importance of this multipurpose intersection for many port users. Other traffic control zones within the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority’s jurisdiction will be implemented in the later phases of the program.








Industry engagement 

With many parties involved in ship movements, collaboration is key to the success of a new AVTM system. Input from industry helped the port authority complete an options and feasibility analysis of ship traffic management in 2020. From the results of that analysis, together with industry, we identified several opportunities for the development of an AVTM program, which include:  

  • Reducing inefficiencies in the gateway and associated loss of productivity or costs to users  
  • Providing a safe, more fluid and consistent traffic flow  
  • Enhancing cooperation between the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, Canadian Coast Guard, and Pacific Pilotage Authority given shared responsibilities in some areas  
  • Using real-time information to make traffic scheduling decisions to meet existing demands and provide a responsive traffic management pattern   

The port authority will continue to collaborate with industry stakeholders involved in marine transportation, terminal operators, cargo owners, associations, and other marine users throughout the development of this collaborative system aimed at managing ship traffic and optimizing supply chain flow to meet Canada’s growing trade needs through the Port of Vancouver.  

Leveraging industry expertise to advance system development

To effectively design a collaborative AVTM system to manage ship traffic and optimize the fluidity of the supply chain, the port authority formed an advisory panel of industry leaders from the marine and supply chain sectors to leverage their expertise and on-the-ground industry experience when developing the system.    

Indigenous and community engagement

In January 2022, the port authority began engaging with Indigenous groups and communities in the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, and the Southern Gulf Islands to share information about how commercial ship movements are managed today, to identify opportunities to increase port efficiency, and help better manage the community effects of commercial ship traffic bound for the Port of Vancouver.  

This initial phase of engagement focused on outreach with Indigenous groups, local governments, and organizations that have previously expressed interest in ship traffic management including the assignment of anchorages, to help us design a meaningful and actionable process for engaging the broader community in the development of the AVTM system moving forward. Phase one engagement is now complete and, in our engagement, report we have summarized what we heard. 

We recently completed phase two engagement (inform and engage) which invited community stakeholders to continue to learn about how commercial ships bound for the Port of Vancouver are managed and share their ideas as we develop the new system. Read the phase two engagement summary report here.  

For more information on future engagement opportunities, visit our engagement page:

Measuring success

We will work with industry partners to develop performance indicators to measure progress on the program elements and ensure benefits to partners, communities and stakeholders are realized, including improvements in cargo throughput and efficiency for ships calling at the Port of Vancouver.  

Aligning with supporting and complementary initiatives

The AVTM Program will align with other port authority-led initiatives to make coordinated planning easier and more efficient for parties involved. These include initiatives such as the West Coast Supply Chain Visibility Program and the Port Optimization and Digitalization Visioning Study. 

For more information 

For program updates, please subscribe to our AVTM email list. 

Email: [email protected] 

Phase three engagement

Between November 1 to 30, 2022, the port authority invited you to learn more about and provide feedback on the draft anchorage code of conduct and our approach to information sharing and complaint resolution. We held three community open houses, an online information session and a digital survey.  

Thank you to everyone who provided valuable feedback and participated by attending the open houses and the online information session. 

Ways to participate from November 1 to 30, 2022

Attend open houses on Pender Island and in Cowichan Bay and Ladysmith
Drop-in and read our display boards to learn about the AVTM Program. Provide your feedback on the draft anchorage code of conduct and our approach to information sharing and complaint resolution on the interactive display boards and/or the online survey (computers will be available). Meet the AVTM Program team and representatives from Transport Canada, Pacific Pilotage Authority, and Canadian Coast Guard and ask questions.

  • November 15, 2022 – North Pender Island from 2:00 to 6:00 p.m. at the Pender Islands Community Hall, 4418 Bedwell Harbour Road, North Pender Island
  • November 16, 2022 – Cowichan Bay from 2:00 to 6:00 p.m. at the Cowichan Station, 2375 Koksilah Road, Duncan
  • November 17, 2022 – Ladysmith from 2:00 to 6:00 p.m. at the Diamond Community Hall, 4962 Christie Road, Ladysmith

Attend an online information session on November 22, 2022 from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m.
For those who are unable to participate in the open houses in person, we will provide an online presentation about the AVTM Program, gather feedback on the draft anchorage code of conduct, and our approach to information sharing and complaint resolution and be available to answer any questions. Sign up here.

Read the discussion guide
Read the discussion guide to learn about the AVTM Program and our engagement topics for phase three engagement.

Complete the online survey from November 1 to 30, 2022
Complete the survey to provide feedback on the draft anchorage code of conduct and our approach to information sharing and complaint resolution.

Email your feedback to
[email protected]

Mail your feedback to
Vancouver Fraser Port Authority
Attention: Project communications
100 The Pointe, 999 Canada Place
Vancouver, BC V6C 3T4

Previous engagement

The port authority held the first phase of engagement in early 2022. As part of this engagement, we initiated discussions with Indigenous groups, various levels of government, and community interest groups about opportunities to increase port efficiency and to help better manage the effects of ship traffic on local communities.

In summer 2022, the port authority invited you to learn about our work to develop an active vessel traffic management system and to share your ideas.

This second phase of engagement focused on:

  • Informing the public on how ship traffic and anchorages are currently managed
  • Roles of the Vancouver Fraser Port, Transport Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard
  • How increased efficiency will help better manage effects of anchorages on local communities
  • The initiatives that are underway to improve efficiency
  • Upcoming opportunities to participate in the active vessel traffic management system design

During the engagement period, we heard the following key themes for consideration:

  • Clarify the governance structure and jurisdiction over the Southern Gulf Island anchorages to support effective management and oversight
  • Improve the efficiency and scheduling of ship movements to reduce the overall use of anchorages, with consideration for creating financial incentives to eliminate use of anchorages or reduce length of stay.
  • Create and strictly enforce a protocol for ships at anchor to reduce the effects of ships on local communities, particularly noise and light pollution
  • Improve environmental management, protect marine life, and ensure vessel discharge regulations are being followed
  • Move anchorages further from residential and environmentally sensitive areas
  • Provide a clear process on how residents can submit a complaint, and improve follow up with residents on how complaints have been addressed
  • Integrate Indigenous knowledge into the review and development of new tools. Engagement with Indigenous groups should consider the cumulative environmental effects of anchorages and impacts on traditional activities.

Some of the feedback noted above falls within Transport Canada’s jurisdiction and is outside our scope of authority. We have shared this feedback with Transport Canada staff.