Nanaimo Port sets course for future expansion

The Nanaimo Port Authority is embarking on a decade long voyage to diversify and attract more business to the city.

The Nanaimo Port Authority is embarking on a decade long voyage to diversify and attract more business to the city.

Bernie Dumas, NPA president and CEO, said the organization has key assets that make it an appealing destination for businesses, especially those looking to connect to markets in the Pacific Rim.

To expand, the port created the Path 2025 strategic plan, which is meant to address the need for infrastructure upgrades and modernization over the next decade.

For several years, the port authority focused its efforts on the creation and construction of the cruise ship terminal. With that project’s completion, it is setting its sights on other opportunities to expand, while continuing to market the terminal to attract vessels, said Dumas.

“For the Port Authority to thrive into the next decade, we need to diversify,” he said. “Predominantly the economy is doing quite well and a lot of companies are looking at developing a distribution centre for products to ship to Asia.”

Space in Vancouver is at a premium and some businesses might be looking to relocate to Nanaimo to take advantage of unused portions of the port authority’s Duke Point industrial terminal area or assembly wharf area.

A key component many businesses are looking at is deep water to accommodate larger shipping vessels, which is available at the Duke Point industrial terminal, said Dumas.

The 28-hectare terminal has 22 hectares of leasable storage area, a 40-tonne container crane and a 100-metre barge ramp. The 15-hectare assembly wharf is home to the port’s cruise ship terminal, administration offices and three deep sea berths.

Dumas is optimistic that over the next few years, new businesses will be looking to relocate to Nanaimo. The port is already in discussions with some businesses interested in Nanaimo, but he can’t say which until deals are finalized.

Expansion could have a substantial employment impact on the community in terms of direct employment or spin-off business for existing Nanaimo companies, he added.

As part of the expansion, the port authority also hopes to develop a downtown waterfront transportation hub that incorporates ferries, buses, float planes, trains and cruise ships that will connect to a community-wide transportation network.

It’s also eyeing upgrades to the downtown Boat Basin.

“The marina has been the jewel of the inner harbour of Nanaimo for a very long time,” said Dumas.

However, some of the docks are in rough shape and the electrical and sewage infrastructure needs to be modernized and upgraded.

Some projects might involve public input, but Dumas said he can’t say what they are until the plan takes shape.

The port authority is redesigning its website, but people can get more information on the strategy by clicking on the Path 2025 icon.

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