Boost for Island’s container-ship capacity in $105M Duke Point expansion

A $105-million public-private expansion of the Duke Point Terminal is being touted as the key to ­opening up Vancouver Island to more container shipping and to enhance its ability to send shipments via barges between Nanaimo and Vancouver.

New infrastructure will prepare the port for the future and open up import and export channels for B.C. and national producers, partners say.

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“The Duke Point Expansion Project will bring Vancouver Island to world markets and put the Island on an even playing field with the rest of Canada in terms of trade,” Donna Hais, chair of the Nanaimo Port Authority, said during a virtual press conference.

“This is going to provide future ­opportunities for a logistics hub that provides ­sustainability in terms of food, and it’s also going to provide excellent paying jobs to our local ­communities.”

Container ships would dock at Duke Point and their cargo would be broken into smaller ­shipments, delivered to Vancouver and elsewhere via barges, Hais said.

Ian Marr, port authority president and chief executive, said the development on the site’s 30 acres will stimulate the economy and create jobs. Predictions call for about 1,000 new jobs.

Fundamental to the plan is a 50-year lease signed Wednesday between the Port of Nanaimo and DP World, a Dubai-based global leader in ­shipping and port logistics. DP will manage the ­terminal.

Along with the company’s investment, the ­federal government is putting in $46.2 million through its national trade corridors fund and the province is contributing $15 million from B.C.’s ­economic recovery fund.

Improvements include extending the existing berth to 1,049 feet from 597 feet. The existing diesel quay crane will be replaced with two electric quay cranes. The terminal’s container yard storage area will be increased to boost capacity to hold 280,000 containers, each 20-feet long. A truck gate, warehouse, an administration and maintenance building are all going in. Drainage, sewer, water and security systems will all be upgraded.

Work is slated to be carried out in the next one to two years, said Mike Davidson, port chief ­operating officer.

Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog said: “This expansion project represents the most significant investment we’ve seen in the Port of Nanaimo in a very, very long time. This puts us front stage centre absolutely in terms of access to Vancouver Island, the delivery of goods and the export of goods, all of those things.”

Nanaimo’s population has reached 100,000 and the new jobs through port operations will mean “money in people’s pockets. It means prosperity for all sorts of small businesses. It attracts people from around the world who might have particular skills. It creates a talent pool.”

Maksim Mihic, chief executive and general manager of DP World (Canada) Inc., said the project will put Vancouver Island on “an even playing field with the rest of Canada in terms of trade.

As well as new jobs, the development “will also highlight Vancouver Island’s advantage in industrial land availability and affordability in comparison to the Lower Mainland.” It will result in greenhouse gas reductions as trucks carrying cargo are replaced with short-haul shipping, he said.

cjwilson@timescolonist.com

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