Those who attended the grand opening of Seaspan Ferries’ new Duke Point terminal on Monday morning were taken on a tour of the Seaspan Reliant, one of the company’s two new liquefied natural gas-powered ferries. CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin

Seaspan Ferries opens new Duke Point terminal

Grand opening held Monday to show off Jackson Road facility in Nanaimo

Seaspan Ferries is charting a course for smooth future sailing from Nanaimo and the mainland from its new Duke Point ferry terminal.

The company hosted a grand opening for the 7.3 hectare facility, located at 850 Jackson Rd. in the Duke Point industrial park, with a First Nation blessing, speeches from company officials, a ribbon cutting, pancake breakfast and a tour of the Seaspan Reliant, sister ship to Seaspan Swift, two new liquefied natural gas-powered 149-metre long ferries that can accommodate up to 59 16-metre trailers and are the first new vessels added to the Seaspan Ferries fleet since 2002.

Frank Butzelaar, Seaspan CEO, said in a speech that the company now moves more than 500 trailers each day and 20,000 [rail] cars annually.

“Our promise to our customers in 2011 was that we are in business for the long term and we are going to back that up with a major investment, a $250 million investment, in new vessels and new terminals,” Butzelaar said. “Thanks to their support we kept our promise. Today we cut the ribbon on, and officially open, our new Duke Point terminal.”

Butzelaar said the facility has space for 360 trailers and excellent access to the Island Highway and will greatly improve the flexibility and efficiency for Seaspan and its customers.

The $44-million, multi-berth terminal took 19 month to construct and combined the operations from its old facility at Duke Point and previous terminal in downtown Nanaimo.