Nanaimo’s port diversifying to distribute European cars


WATCH: Nanaimo’s waterfront is about to get much busier. The port is slated to become a distribution centre for European cars heading to the rest of B.C. and across western Canada. Kendall Hanson explains.

Crews are busy removing the final pieces of the Western Forest Products mill on Nanaimo’s waterfront.

Once it’s gone, the Nanaimo Port Authority, along with partners, will transform the space, along with adjoining property, into a vehicle processing centre. At the centre, cars imported from Europe will be readied for the Canadian market.

“It’s not too many places where you can find 17 acres adjacent to the water where you can bring in a car carrier and offload cars and run them through a vehicle processing centre,” said Ewan Moir, CEO of the Nanaimo Port Authority. “So what started as a conversation five and a half to six months ago has gone very quickly from an idea to reality which is quite rare for a project like this.”

In the past, European cars have been shipped to eastern Canada.

Then they were loaded onto trains and sent across the country.

But changes to the Panama Canal now allow ships to bring vehicles directly to the west coast.

They will unload at ports along the way with a final stop in Nanaimo. It is something that will help car dealers in B.C.

“And Vancouver has vehicle processing centres, but they’re at capacity right now and they need some time to expand and that’s when Nanaimo came into the picture,” said Moir.

Storms in the winter and fires in the summer have slowed the transport of European cars across the country.

“So the dealerships in Vancouver in particular where land is very expensive, they’ve been leasing land to inventory vehicles to take into account the constraints on the supply chain,” said Moir.

The Port Authority says Nanaimo will act as a buffer, holding cars for the dealers.

Nanaimo’s mayor says it’s great for the city

“Well 40 new jobs is a big deal,” said Mayor Bill McKay. “And imagine now, this was a facility that used to deal exclusively with forest products now being used for European automobiles. Very clever.”

It’s expected 40 jobs will be created in the beginning rising to an eventual 110 direct jobs.

The first vehicle carrier is expected in Nanaimo in January 2019.

The Nanaimo Port Authority’s new release can be found here.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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