Shipping wharf project moved to Duke Point

NANAIMO – Soft sea bed on Nanaimo waterfront sees container project out of downtown.

The Nanaimo Port Authority is shopping for a mobile crane to handle shipping containers at its Duke Point deep water terminal.

The crane is just one item on the port authority’s shopping list of things needed to upgrade its container shipping wharf at Duke Point.

Plans to build a short sea shipping container wharf got a boost in 2013 when the federal government gave a $4.65-million grant – matched by the port authority – to build the Asia-Pacific Gateway assembly wharf modernization project, which was to be built downtown at the Nanaimo Assembly Wharf before a geotechnical engineering study determined that the sea bed at that site is too soft to support the weight of the facility and unloaded cargo.

The study results meant the project had to be moved to Duke Point.

“The berth face of the assembly wharf was just not going to work,” said Bernie Dumas, Nanaimo Port Authority president and CEO. “The containers are heavy and if you pile them up it was just going to sink.”

Dumas said tendering for the project will be put out in March.

Construction will include building a barge berth and adding lighting, fencing and security upgrades to the existing Duke Point terminal.

“Then we’re going to purchase a mobile crane,” Dumas said. “We’re looking at two of them and we’ve had a company go and survey them.”

Both cranes being considered are used units built in 2009. One is in Europe and the other is in Brazil.

Dumas said the berth construction is a simple project and loading operations should start in the fall.

“Things are getting a little busier … you’ve got to move it pretty quick to meet all the ships in Vancouver, so the new berth is going to help us quite a bit,” Dumas said.

The port authority is now looking for new uses for the Nanaimo Assembly Wharf. Dumas said ideas are still being explored, but the focus is on light industrial uses with a marine transportation theme and he said he hopes to have some positive news to offer in a few months’ time.