On May 9, 2017, eight Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) students set off with Marian Robson, Chair of the Pacific Chapter of The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transportation – North America (CILTNA) to tour the Neptune Bulk Terminal in North Vancouver. After a sunny drive including crossing the Lions Gate Bridge, the team arrived at Neptune’s administration office to meet Lisa Dooling, Director of Community & Stakeholder Engagement for Neptune. Lisa outlined all the details about the bulk terminal including its operations, ownership, products, employees, sustainability, and community involvement. Learning how the marine terminal was a private enterprise owned by Campotex and Teck Resources and exported steel-making coal and potash was an essential understanding for the students. Neptune Bulk Terminal is an important part of the North Vancouver Community. The terminal is a key employer and strives to protect the environment as well as serve and give back to the community. The conversation was engaging, and students asked their detailed questions about how the marine terminal operates.

The boardroom portion of the tour included seeing both a large phosphate rock to examine (a commodity they import) but also an aerial view of the terminal and adjacent terminals. It was interesting to be able to touch this raw material being brought into Canada. Seeing the whole scope of terminal efficiently organized into a confined space increased the appreciation for everyone on tour. It enhanced their understanding of how it functioned as a gateway connecting Canada to the rest of the world.

After learning about the terminal, our team donned proper PPE’s including safety vests, glasses, and hard hats and boarded a small tour bus to drive over to the actual terminal grounds. The first stop was a vantage point over the coal storage to see the entire facility and to get an idea of just how much product was being moved! Once the view was soaked in the bus proceeded to the potash houses where potash was moved by conveyor from rail to house to ship. You never realize just how big these operations are until you’re standing in a building and see just how small you are in comparison. The final stop was by the waterside to see the product being loaded and to see the large ships used for moving goods across the ocean. The Neptune Bulk Terminal is an impressive sight to see, operating 24/7 with the ability to move 24 million tonnes of product. The terminal is certainly an essential facility for the Canadian economy to reach global markets.

After the tour, the team met back at the hotel and heard more about CILTNA from Marian Robson. The organization is recognized globally, and the Pacific Chapter has been very active engaging industry, government, and academic institutes. The tour was an exciting time because the Prairie Chapter, which encompasses Calgary, had only recently been created. Participation is CILTNA events is a great opportunity for students to network and become involved with the industry.

Overall, a very engaging tour and remarkable to be right at the port terminal. Being able to immerse yourself in its operations and see the port facilities in action provide an outstanding learning experience, providing insight into a critical node of Canada’s supply chain. For eight SAIT students from Alberta, the experience was eye-opening.

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