Repairs on large vessels, such as tugs and the Digby Island Ferry, could soon be done on the North Coast as plans are in place to pursue the construction of a drydock facility in the community.
A drydock allows large vessels to enter a confined area before the area is pumped out, leaving the vessel sitting on blocks or other supports. A letter from sent from Alec Spiller of Spiller Marine Services to municipal governments and industry stakeholders outlines the rationale for seeking such a project in the region.
“Our airport and Port Simpson ferries and the present fleet of larger fish boats and tugs shows that, as a port, we desperately need this facility … the repair and maintenance work we are seeking routinely numbers in the hundreds of thousands and sometime millions of dollars,” wrote Spiller.
“The list of potential immediate customers for the services of a drydock and mechanical repair facility show the facility is warranted at the present time and will certainly grow with the expanding capabilities of our port city.”
Negotiations with First Nations, investors and entrepreneurs is ongoing and Spiller said the government’s Drydock Subsidies Act would provide partial construction funding and a 35-year subsidy for a minimum 3,500 tonne drydock facility. Should the project proceed, Spiller notes it is more than just the marine service industry that would benefit.
“With the above building of the 3,500 tonne drydock and the installation of a 100 tonne marine travel lift on a prime piece of Prince Rupert waterfront, it is estimated that we could have 30 to 50 skilled workers with substantial paying jobs working immediately with the capability to increase the workforce substantially as business expands,” he wrote.
“With an ongoing subsidy for 35 years, the city taxes could be expected to be paid for that period of time, which would be a tremendous bonus for the property owners and the City of Prince Rupert.”
Spiller Marine Services is also working with the Prince Rupert and Port Edward Economic Development Corporation on the proposal and Paul Vendittelli of the corporation said the project has its full support.
“Port related developments have become the primary source of economic activity in the Prince Rupert and Port Edward area, but a sufficient level of infrastructure simply does not exist. Prince Rupert and Port Edward’s strategic positioning along B.C.’s north coast makes it ideal to provide a drydock,” he wrote.