Nanaimo Port Authority’s new chief executive officer plans to be all ears as he spends time in the community.
“I’m going out to listen to learn,” said president and CEO Ewan Moir.
Moir took the helm of the NPA on Oct. 10, taking over from Bernie Dumas, who announced his retirement earlier this year.
The port’s new boss grew up in Helensburgh, on the coast of Scotland, and got his start with British Petroleum. He was with BP Shipping, joined the Merchant Navy and worked as a marine engineer on tankers and off-shore vessels in the North Sea.
He left the deep sea when he married his wife and gave up the sea altogether when she became pregnant. He started to work for Ulstein U.K. in the marine ship building support industry in 1988.
Moir is now nearing the end of his career.
“I started out in the Merchant Navy, I started out with ships and I really like the idea of finishing my career with ships; I thought would be really nice,” said Moir of taking the position.
He also likes the idea of working with a team, the community and hopefully leaving a stamp in Nanaimo that’s as successful for the city, region and mid Island as his work has been for private companies.
“I’d like to leave the port fitting nicely with the city, with the right businesses in place which are good for the city and the economy of the city, and are a fit with the region here, which I think is fantastic,” he said.
Moir has been spending a lot of time with people outside the port authority and wants to hear the community’s perception of the port. Among those he’d like to speak with are the Nanaimo Marina Association, Snuneymuxw First Nation and City of Nanaimo. The trio are involved in an effort to look at a new harbour governance model.
“It would be silly not to be concerned, but at the end of the day I’d like to understand why,” said Moir, adding from the ‘whys,’ the port can consider whether it should look at doing some things a little differently.
Moir said the relationships between the port and city at the higher levels, including with long-term planning, aren’t working the way they should. He said he has to address it and “it’s very important.”
Business diversification is also important for the new CEO, who notes there’s been a period when that hasn’t happened fast enough at the Nanaimo Assembly Wharf. What goes on the lands has to fit with the local community and it’s important the port brings in the right type of businesses, said Moir, who is looking for those with an environmental aspect and that want to be a long-term community member.
“We are working with some projects for this particular property that fit most of that really quite nicely,” he said.
Cruise business hasn’t reached the heights hoped with nine large and small vessels on the schedule to visit this year. The model had been for 20-25, according to Moir, who said the port has a big part to play in getting those vessels but isn’t the sole player. The big picture of tourism for Nanaimo and Central Vancouver Island is part of a cruise ship model, he said.
But in 2019, Moir is already guaranteeing this city will lose ships as a result of a letter he’s heard has been sent to one or more cruise lines that the dock is unsafe. He did not know who sent the letter or when, but said it’s gone out to various cruise and the port is getting comments back, like “I’m not so sure we can come to your facility.” The dock opened in 2011, and he said anyone who thinks it’s falling over tomorrow either believes it’s of aluminum, poorly designed or poorly constructed and he can assure that’s not the case.
A passenger ferry service in the works for the waterfront but Moir isn’t sure the timing of the new business. Island Ferries has responded to an expression of interest for the Vancouver SeaBus terminal and he said he’s not sure how long it will take for TransLink to make a decision on a proponent.
“Until that piece of the puzzle is put in place, the project will sit exactly where it is,” he said.