$15.8M federal boost for graving dock

The addition of a third $15.8-million electrical substation at Esquimalt Graving Dock is a significant improvement vital to the economic future of the dock and its safety, director Stafford Bingham said Monday.

“Without them we wouldn’t be safe to work here; this is huge,” said Bingham. The federal government announced funding for the substation at the graving dock on Monday.

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Scansa Construction will build the two-storey main substation building at the north end of the dock — the third of four. The south has already been upgraded.

Carla Qualtrough, public services and procurement minister, gave details about the electrical upgrade, which will use money from previously announced funding for the graving dock.

“The graving dock is an incredible driver in our economy,” said Qualtrough. “That’s why the government has made a strategic investment of $175 million over the past four years to enhance the dock and ensure its long-term sustainability.”

The construction will not necessarily create new jobs, but “maintain and sustain” existing jobs, said Bingham.

Scansa will replace aging high- and low-voltage transformers and switch gear. The work is underway and is due to be completed in December. “It’s been very unsafe the way the work has been done over the last few years so these are really health and safety upgrades as well [as providing] modern electricity,” said Bingham.

Power will come into the new 2,000-square-foot substation “chock-a-block full of brand new high-tech electrical equipment” and be transformed, said Bingham. It runs through cables underneath the dock’s platform and through tunnels the full length of the graving dock.

The power will be made available through kiosks along the upper inside of the graving dock allowing huge cables from ships to plug in for “shore power” while undergoing repairs.

Workers won’t have to go underground “dragging cables through the tunnels and connecting them” as they do now, said Bingham.

The graving dock’s local economic impact is estimated at about $183 million. It supports about 1,350 jobs in the capital region and generates about $18.8 million in federal, provincial and municipal taxes, according to the federal government.

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