Construction on a new foreign vehicle processing centre is underway at the Port of Nanaimo. Photo submitted

Construction proceeding on Nanaimo vehicle processing centre

Facility to be operational by Jan. 1 to prepare European vehicles for Canadian market

Construction is underway at the Port of Nanaimo on a new B.C. vehicle processing centre.

Phase 1 of the project involves renovating a 60,000-square-foot structure that formerly served as part of the Nanaimo Assembly Wharf warehousing infrastructure.

The renovation is expected to be completed by Jan. 1 when the first shipment of about 400 new vehicles will arrive to receive accessories and modifications for the Canadian auto market.

The facility will process European-made vehicles to be sent to dealerships in the Lower Mainland and eventually to dealerships across western Canada.

The Port of Nanaimo partnered with Western Stevedoring and its affiliate, the auto division of SSA Marine, to design, build, finance and operate the terminal, and the existing pier is being upgraded to berth a Pure Car and Truck Carrier, a vessel purpose-built for vehicle and equipment transport.

Until now, European vehicle manufacturers had only access to ports in eastern Canada to process vehicles, which then have to be shipped by rail or truck to dealers across the country. The Nanaimo site will also act as temporary storage for vehicles until they are shipped, which will relieve existing storage capacity shortages on the mainland.

The renovation work includes refinishing the building’s exterior and retrofit of 30,000 square feet of its interior for the vehicle processing centre, which will handle about 10,000 cars in its first year of operation.

“This project is a $19 million investment overall,” said Michelle Corfield, Nanaimo Port Authority board chairwoman, said in a press release. “We are grateful that the federal government has contributed $6.3 million towards it as well, which indicates they are as optimistic about this project and its positive impact on the region as we are at the port.”

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