Feds announce $46.2 million to expand Port Nanaimo’s Duke Point facilities

Sounder News

Wednesday, July 31 2019

The federal government announced $46.2 million in funding on Wednesday, July 24, to enable the Port of Nanaimo to make significant infrastructure improvements and expansions at its Duke Point facilities. 

Port of Nanaimo Board Chair Donna Hais said, “I don’t think we’ve ever seen this type of major financial investment in Nanaimo before. 

“I’m extremely excited about what this will provide for the community of Nanaimo and for the mid-island region as a whole; it will create a lot of well-paying jobs.” 

According to the Port, an estimated 900 jobs will be created in the region during construction, besides the long-term employees who will be working at the expanded facilities. 

Using the funding, the Port will be expanding the existing wharf to 325 metres from its current 182, and an existing crane will be replaced with two 24-metre cranes.

A new warehouse will be built for general cargo; a new maintenance and administration building and truck gate added; plus an increase to the terminal’s storage area; and upgrades made to electrical, sewer, drainage, water and security systems around the facility.

 The funding announcement was made by Marc Garneau, Federal Minister of Transport. 

Hais said, “This has been a team effort, and we’re all celebrating together.

“This improves our ability to receive goods directly here in Nanaimo, and provide for all of Vancouver Island.”

Paul Manly, Green Party Member of Parliament for Nanaimo-Ladysmith, said, “This expansion will create more jobs and economic activity. It will also be good for some of the export-based industries in the Nanaimo area. But this port expansion could be a double-edged sword for those people who live in the vicinity of the port or the anchorages on Protection and Gabriola islands. It will create more efficiencies in the west coast port system with ships able to unload in Nanaimo for distribution of goods on Vancouver Island and also allow for short-sea shipping to Vancouver. 

“Hopefully, increased efficiencies will help cut down on the time needed for ships to be at the six local anchorages and at the anchorages in the Southern Gulf Islands which are part of the interim protocol.”

The Port of Nanaimo’s Duke Point facility as seen from Pat Burns Avenue on Gabriola’s north-west end. Derek Kilbourn photo

Chris Straw, President of the Gabriolans Against Freighter Anchorages (GAFA) provided a statement saying, “While many will welcome this announcement for the short term jobs it will create and the small increase in economic activity in may bring to Vancouver Island, it’s important to make sure this growth is managed responsibility. 

“How about spending some of these federal dollars on improving the west coast supply chain so we don’t have to have empty bulk cargo ships anchoring all over the Southern Gulf Islands. 

“It’s not longer appropriate to think of local waterways as a limitless resource that can accommodate ever increasing activity. 

“We need concrete measures and safeguards to protect our fragile marine ecosystems. There is little evidence at the moment that anyone is studying the impact of all of this growth on the Salish Sea and this part of the coast in particular?”

 Port of Nanaimo CEO Ian Marr said the funding is an integral step towards the Port’s goal of expanding its short-sea shipping and cargo operations.

Marr said, “With our location and the high volumes of cargo moving into and out of Vancouver and Vancouver Island, we are ideally situated to become the primary point of entry and exit for trans-shipment of goods for Vancouver Island.

“Our new equipment and facilities will make us an ideal, attractive and efficient option for local, national and international companies. We’re coming off our best financial year yet, and we expect these new developments will allow us to create new growth for the region.”

The announcement is the latest major announcement for the Port of Nanaimo, which opened the Vehicle Processing Centre in the spring. The federal government contributed $6.3 million towards that project, which created 200 jobs during construction and will have 80-100 full-time workers once peak capacity of processing 50,000 vehicles is reached.