EDITORIAL: Boat missed on shipbuilding

A promising shipbuilding contract for $8 billion won by Vancouver’s Seaspan Marine this week will most certainly benefit Nanaimo Shipyards.

A promising shipbuilding contract for $8 billion won by Vancouver’s Seaspan Marine this week will most certainly benefit Nanaimo Shipyards.

Tasked with building seven non-combat coast guard and Fisheries and Oceans vessels, Seaspan will have its hands full completing the contract and Nanaimo Shipyards has put itself in a strong position to sub-contract some of the work and maintenance on the current fleet.

Ron van Wachem, Nanaimo Shipyard’s president, said it could mean at least 100 well-paying jobs, including skilled labour and management positions.

After three years of economic uncertainty, this is one of the brightest economic lights the city has seen since Harmac refired its pulp lines.

So where is the city’s new Economic Development Corporation?

Created and tasked with the intent to improve Nanaimo’s economic future, the corporation missed the boat on this opportunity.

Despite the EDC having a board of directors for almost a year – its CEO Susan Cudahy only arrived in Nanaimo last week – Nanaimo Shipyards hasn’t received a single phone call in the past few days from a corporation representative or the mayor’s office to determine how they can work together to produce a skilled workforce, or how the city can help in any way.

In the year-long request for proposals process, there was a similar silence from the city.

If we want true economic development in this city and not just rhetoric, we need to get the people who were put in the positions of responsibility involved in the process and help local businesses beat the drum to attract jobs.

Moving economic improvement off the drawing board requires action to help guide Nanaimo’s ship into port – and so far that hasn’t happened.