Cargo volumes, including automotive, flowing through the Port of Vancouver increased over the course of this past year.

Volumes overall were up by 6% year-over-year in 2023.

For automotive specifically, volume was up by a whopping 36% last year, as the sector returned to pre-pandemic volumes, according to data from the Port of Vancouver and Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, the federal agency mandated with enabling Canadian trade through the port.

A press release from the port said one of the reasons auto experienced such a good year for exports was the easing of supply chain and production issues, as well as consumer demand for vehicles remaining resilient amid a difficult economic environment.

“We know reliable access to international markets is vital for Canadian exports and Canadian businesses — supporting jobs, investment and economic activity from coast to coast. I want to acknowledge the resilience of Port of Vancouver terminal operators and supply chain partners, as they moved record volumes of trade in 2023 against a challenging backdrop to support Canadians and their jobs and businesses,” Vancouver Fraser Port Authority president and CEO Peter Xotta said in a press release.

Almost as much cargo moved through the Port of Vancouver in 2023 as moved through Canada’s next five largest ports combined, while the port handled North America’s most diversified range of cargo — including bulk, containers, breakbulk and automobiles, as well as overseeing cruise, the port reported.

Port authorities all over Canada has been tracking other stats on the water, as well, as vehicle theft and export continues to be a growing challenge for the country.

Michael Rothe, president and CEO of the CFLA, said this past fall that the vehicle theft explosion in Canada impacts just about everyone in the automotive industry.

For CFLA’s audience, in particular, many of its members are financing these stolen vehicles. This becomes even more of a problem with lease vehicles.

“The lease ones really hurt, because the legal owner is the financing company. So the financiers are often not even advised of the theft,” said Rothe. “The problem with leasing, I think, is not everyone outside the auto industry understands what that means, and they think the driver is the owner.”

Rothe said the problem is sometimes exacerbated by communication issues with the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) and provincial police.

“We started talking with the local port authority police in Montreal, Vancouver, Halifax. If you got a container and the cars in it are stolen and are from different areas, you have to go to those individual municipalities to file a police report. And it’s difficult to get the police to engage on it, because it’s just not a priority,” said Rothe. “To get it done, someone needs to be on site to insist. It’s just not practical. And by the time you get everything together, the container is long gone.”

For more from Rothe on the growing problem in Vancouver, Ontario and beyond, read this previous report from Auto Remarketing Canada.