Nanaimo port’s vehicle offload centre ready by January

Construction is underway at the Port of Nanaimo site that will be home to the new B.C. Vehicle Processing Centre.

The 60,000-square-foot building will see about 10,000 European-made vehicles offloaded and detailed in the first year, starting with an initial shipment of 400 in January.

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“This exciting project is the result of a lot of discussions and hard work that is going to result in economic stimulus for Nanaimo, and a lot of good jobs — at least 50 to start with,” Port of Nanaimo chairwoman Michelle Corfield said in a statement. “Projects like this don’t happen overnight, and we are grateful for the persistence and vision demonstrated by our Port team and our new tenants.”

The facility will be the initial offloading and preparation area for new European automobiles that will be sent to vehicle dealerships on Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland, eventually expanding to serve Western Canada.

The Port of Nanaimo is partnering with Western Stevedoring and its affiliate organization, the auto division of SSA Marine, to design, build, finance and operate the terminal.

The existing pier is being upgraded to allow for berthing of a specialized cargo vessel used to transport vehicles and equipment. Nanaimo was chosen as it provides direct short-sea connections to the Lower Mainland, and automotive manufacturers are experiencing significant capacity constraints and other issues elsewhere.

Port co-CEO Mike Davidson said the initial phase will see the exterior of the building refinished, and 30,000 square feet of the interior will be retrofitted.

Co-CEO Ian Marr said that following the arrival of the first vessel in the first week of January, vehicles will arrive every two weeks for the first year, totaling about10,000 within the first year.

“At this point we are seeing 20 to 25 people daily working in the warehouse, and another four to five on the marine works,” Marr said. “We anticipate another 10 more starting this week for the civil and electrical works.”

Western Stevedoring, engineering companies, Canada Border Service Agency and Transport Canada employees are also working on the site.

Port of Nanaimo vice-chair Donna Hais said the project is a $19-million investment overall, with the federal government contributing $6.3 million.

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