Bernie Dumas, president and CEO of Nanaimo Port Authority since 2008, is retiring.
His last day on the job will be Sept. 30.
Dumas made the announcement Wednesday morning at the Nanaimo Port Authority’s corporate office on the second floor of the cruise ship terminal.
Dumas, 63, worked across Canada during his 40-year career in the marine industry, but said the time has come to spend more time with his family and personal pursuits. He also said his term as president and CEO of the Nanaimo Port Authority during a transformation period was an enjoyable and gratifying time.
“I think I helped the port develop itself over the last nine years from, really when I came here, it was in a tough position as a forest distributions centre and what not,” Dumas said. “Now we’re a multi-modal port. We’ve got containers. We’ve got things happening here.”
Moira Jenkins, port authority board chairwoman, credits Dumas with introducing DP World to operate the Port of Nanaimo’s Duke Point, Assembly Wharf and container shipping operations to establish Nanaimo as the main marine trade gateway to and from the Island.
Other projects established during Dumas’s time overseeing the port include development of the Marine Domain Awareness System, a marine navigation and security system that continues to undergo development in Nanaimo with potential future sales to major ports around the world.
Dumas said the port’s biggest challenge will continue to be to diversify to find new business opportunities that generate more revenue and investing that revenue into upgrading facilities and infrastructure, such as Duke Point terminals and the downtown marina. He cited Seaspan Ferries’ recent $20-million facility upgrade at Duke Point as a step in the right direction.
“The Island is going to double in population in another 20 years,” Dumas said. “We’re going to need more goods. We’re going to need more materials and Nanaimo’s really the gateway for the freight … The port needs to upgrade our facilities, particularly at Duke Point for the future. It’s getting the revenues to come up so we can put capital back into infrastructure, get government support and build new terminals here for companies. We really need new companies.”
Jenkins said the Port of Nanaimo has begun to collaborate with ports of Victoria and Port Alberni to create a cohesive transportation plan for the Island.
“Our next stage of this piece is, we started with the ports to get a … business strategy moving forward and then we’ll bring in all the communities, north and south on Vancouver Island, as well as airports,” Jenkins said.
Dumas said he is disappointed with the cruise ship business to Nanaimo.
“If there’s any regrets it has to do with my personal goal of having 20, 25 cruise ships and we’ve had six or seven and we seem to be stalled as far as trying to get new ones in,” Dumas said. “I really do think we can get 20 or so, but we need to work as a community and find some attractions and that kind of stuff.”
Bernie and his wife Shelley intend to remain in Nanaimo where they have created a new life and circle of friends.
The NPA board of directors has hired PFM Executive Search to find Dumas’s replacement, who will likely be in place in October.