Project and environmental review

When maintenance or construction work is proposed in the Port of Vancouver, there are many different factors we must take into consideration. Will the work required have any impacts on the environment? How might surrounding communities be impacted? Will the proposed work have any benefits to port-wide productivity or efficiency?

Looking to submit a project permit application? Learn more about how our Project and Environmental Review process applies to you.

If you have questions, please email our planning and development department or call 604.665.9047.

As the Canada Port Authority is responsible for the stewardship of the Port of Vancouver, we have an obligation to make sure the activities and developments not only enable Canada’s trade, but do so sustainably. Our view of sustainability is economic prosperity through trade, a healthy environment and thriving communities.

Through our project and environmental review (PER) process, we fulfill our federal responsibilities under the Canada Marine Act and the Impact Assessment Act, carefully reviewing and considering potential effects from all proposed project development on federal lands and waters, and neighbouring communities before determining if a project should proceed. Any proposed project on lands or waters within the port authority’s jurisdiction cannot begin work unless we issue a permit.

We will not authorize or allow a project to proceed if it is likely to result in significant adverse environmental effects. Should a project be approved, conditions are included in the permit to avoid or mitigate significant adverse environmental and other effects. Additional port permits, such as building and occupancy permits, may be required as well.

Keeping port development sustainable

Depending on the size and complexity of a proposed project, our team of experts, including planners, environmental scientists, engineers, consultation professionals and if needed, independent consultants, will assess factors such as:

  • Effects on biophysical environment
  • Changes to traffic and transportation
  • Impact of noise, lighting, views, and other effects on communities
  • Effects on the rights and interests of Indigenous groups

The specific requirements for each application depends on the nature of the proposed project. Applications are assigned to one of four categories: A, B, C, or D. Category A are small, simple projects such as drilling investigations or water lot cleanup that would have far fewer potential impacts than a category D project, such as the construction of a new warehouse or a major terminal re-development, which are the most complex.

Our review includes an assessment of studies and evidence to determine whether a project can go ahead without impacts to the environment and community that cannot be mitigated. It is not a review of the business case or product being traded.

Proposed projects that are larger in scope or complexity may require consultation and engagement opportunities in order to consider and identify public and stakeholder interests. Indigenous consultation is also required for proposed projects that may adversely impact asserted or established Aboriginal or Treaty rights. Some proposed projects might also require additional regulatory approvals and permits from other authorities.