Marc Garneau, minister of transportation and infrastructure, speaks during a funding announcement on Wednesday at the Port of Nanaimo’s cruise ship terminal. Garneau announced that the federal government is investing $46.2 million to expand the Nanaimo Port Authority’s Duke Point operations. (NICHOLAS PESCOD/The News Bulletin)

Federal government commits $46 million to expand Port of Nanaimo’s Duke Point operations

Expansion of wharf, new warehouse, administration building, cranes and more coming

More cargo ships will likely be coming to Nanaimo in the near future.

The federal government announced on Wednesday that it is committing $46.2 million to expand the Port of Nanaimo’s Duke Point terminal, which includes expanding the existing wharf from 182 metres to 325 metres, constructing a new warehouse and administration building, replacing an existing crane with two 24-metre cranes, increasing the storage area and upgrading drainage, sewer, electrical, water and security systems.

The overall project is expected to cost $90 million, with the port authority and DP World, a publicly traded United Arab Emirates-based company that operates dozens of ports throughout the world including the Duke Point terminal, contributing funding.

Marc Garneau, minister of transportation and infrastructure, made the announcement at the port authority’s cruise ship terminal on Wednesday afternoon. He said the expansion project will reduce congestion, improve access for international destinations and provide better connections between Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland.

“We have to ensure that our products, our services and our citizens have access to key global markets,” he said. “The investments I’ve just announced will make our transportation systems stronger, more diversified and promote long-term prosperity in the region.”

The announcement comes a little more than a year after Garneau announced $6.3-million in funding for the port authority’s vehicle processing centre.

RELATED: Nanaimo’s vehicle processing centre officially opens

Garneau said the fluidity of the country’s trade corridors is key to the success of Canadian businesses in the global marketplace and critical to the nation’s competitiveness globally.

“It is key to growing the economy and to creating quality jobs for the middle class. We can have the best products in the world, but if we can’t get them to our customers quickly and reliably, we will lose business to other suppliers,” he said.

The project is expected to create around 900 construction jobs, according to the minister.

Donna Hais, port authority chairwoman, said the government’s announcement is great news for the city. She said the project is the result of long-term vision, goals and partnerships with multiple levels of government, the Snuneymuxw First Nation and DP World.

“It’s really amazing that a small community like Nanaimo is doing big things,” she said.

Speaking to the News Bulletin, Garneau said one of the decisions to invest in the project was due to Nanaimo’s proximity to the Lower Mainland as well as private investment into the project.

“There is a lot of shipping that can be done between Nanaimo and the Lower Mainland, the Vancouver-Fraser Port Authority and ultimately internationally as well,” he said. “We think there is a bright future in both of those cases and that is why we felt it was worth investing in the project.”

Garneau also said residents should “feel good” that the port is growing as because it means increased economic benefits for the community.

Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog told the News Bulletin that Garneau’s announcement is “truly exciting” and “enormous” for the city and Vancouver Island.

“This really allows us to step again onto the world stage in terms of trade. This is a very significant investment and I couldn’t be happier. I would be hard-pressed to think of another investment in our community in a single project that would exceed this announcement today in the last decade or two,” he said. “It’s huge.”







nicholas.pescod@nanaimobulletin.com 
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