$44 million terminal expansion consolidates downtown Nanaimo and Duke Point terminals.
The new Seaspan vessel Reliant was loaded with several tractor trailers full of goods headed to Vancouver for the terminal unveiling Monday.
It’s one of two new ferries that will operate out of the 7 hectare terminal at Duke Point.
“I think this really sets us up particularly as we look forward to new vessels 3, 4 and 5 down the road,” said Seaspan president Steve Roth. “It’ll allow us to service the Vancouver Island market that continues to grow.”
Seaspan has seen steady growth in business of 2% to 3% a year, as goods are shipped between the mainland and island.
Seaspan outgrew its terminal in downtown Nanaimo and has now consolidated all operations at Duke Point.
“We had property out here so it was just logical with the addition of the two new ferries we needed a different set of berths for them to fit into. It wouldn’t have worked at Wilcox so we built here.”
The new vessels are also larger, increasing capacity and able to carry fifty-nine 53-foot trailers.
“So to put it in sort of context, if you had a full load coming over to the island and a full load going back that’s over a mile of trailers so it really allows us to service the demand on and off of the island,” added Roth.
It also means by closing the Wilcox terminal, that many trucks will be taken off the road in downtown Nanaimo.
“Getting this kind of traffic away from the core and urban areas was critical,” said Nanaimo city councillor Jerry Hong. “You know it makes the downtown core a lot safer where these trucks aren’t coming back and forth.”
Hong says the Duke Point expansion solidifies Nanaimo as the transportation hub on the island.
It also opens the possibility of extending the waterfront walkway.
“There’s still going to be the rail service that’s going to come out of there so we’re not going to get all the property that we want but we’re working on the negotiations,” said Hong.
“So particularly now that we’ve moved out of the site, it sits there, it’s empty, you know we’ll have conversations with them about what we want to do moving forward,” added Roth.