Mayor George V. Harvie, in partnership with Chief Constable Neil Dubord of the Delta Police Department, has called for remedial action in response to a report the City of Delta commissioned on the ongoing security challenges facing the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority’s Deltaport container terminal at Roberts Bank.
As one of the largest container facilities in Canada, handling over 3 million containers annually, Mayor Harvie has been advocating for funding and resources to enhance security at the port.
The anticipated expansion of Roberts Bank Terminal 2 has renewed concern by leaders at all levels of government over the state of port policing. Mayor Harvie engaged Peter German & Associates to conduct an extensive research study to examine the issues surrounding port policing in Delta and elsewhere in British Columbia.
“The security of our vital ports is not just a local concern; it’s a matter of national significance, affecting Canada’s economic prosperity and safety,” said Mr. Harvie .”No dedicated police force exists that is solely committed to safeguarding the ports.
“Without adequate funding for policing and security at our ports, criminal activity has run rampant with increases in the trafficking of drugs like fentanyl. It is imperative that we take concerted and strategic action to fortify our ports, protect our communities, and preserve our nation’s security.”
Since the disbandment of the Ports Canada Police in 1997, responsibility for port security has been fragmented among various entities, creating a complex web of oversight. This intricate situation has relied on local municipal police, various task forces, and the RCMP, but it lacks a dedicated police force solely committed to safeguarding the ports.
The findings of Peter German & Associates report underline the urgency of the situation. National security and the inflow and outflow of illicit drugs, guns, and contraband are among the major challenges. The report reveals the lack of coherent security measures, an infiltration of organized crime, challenges with controlling access to ports by individuals, a reduction in necessary policing resources, the need for uniformed police presence, and a call for integrated policing.
The key takeaways from the report include the need for dedicated police resources within the port, adequate funding for the RCMP’s Integrated Waterfront Joint Forces Operation, and a strategic approach to address these challenges.
“According to police intelligence, transnational organized crime groups are active within our ports. They use ports to export illicit commodities and take advantage of the low level of scrutiny of outgoing containers, which is even less than the scrutiny of incoming containers,” the report’s authors wrote.
The report continued: “Vancouver is open to transnational organized crime, having provided a staging point for Asian, South American, Mexican, and home-grown syndicates and cartels. The absence of effective investigative processes; cumbersome, lengthy, and failed criminal prosecutions; and a compassionate sentencing regime, mean that there is literally no downside for persons who engage in organized criminality.”
The report cited the recent seizure of US$1.1 billion worth of methamphetamine, which was outbound from Vancouver and destined for consumers in Australia. It was the Canadian Border Services Agency’s largest methamphetamine seizure on record. With the establishment of the Mexico-to-Vancouver CPKC railroad link, the city has become a stopover point for shipments of Mexican methamphetamine to the Australian market, according to the report.
(VFPA photo of Deltaport)