VANCOUVER (CP) – The Vancouver Port Authority has reached an agreement with TSI Terminal Systems Inc. to enter into a new 50-year operating lease upon completion of the proposed $300-million expansion of Deltaport at Roberts Bank.

The port authority plans to add a third berth to increase capacity at Deltaport by 50 per cent up to 1.5 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs). The proposed project is currently undergoing an environmental and regulatory review by provincial and federal agencies. A decision is expected by early 2006.

Port authority CEO Gordon Houston said the lease is important because “it demonstrates the confidence of our operators in the future of the Port of Vancouver.”

Houston said the lease agreement will help pay for the Deltaport expansion as well as bolster its financing efforts for the work. He added that the expansion is part of the port’s efforts to take part in B.C.’s Asia Pacific Gateway strategy.

The port authority and TSI will split the construction costs roughly 50-50.

Upon completion of the expanded terminal, expected by January 2009, the 50-year lease agreement will replace the existing leases and operating agreements the port has with TSI.

“TSI is committed to working with the Port to enhance the efficiency of this gateway,” said Norman Stark, president and chief executive officer of TSI.

“We have already made significant investments to increase capacity at the Vanterm container terminal by almost 30 per cent to 600,000 TEUs, and Deltaport represents the next step in that process.”

TSI has operated container terminals in the Port of Vancouver for over 35 years and in 2004, handled more than 1.3 million TEUs at Vanterm and Deltaport combined.