A barge and container terminal operation in Port Clements could hold great economic benefits to Haida Gwaii, but is only economically feasibly if partners are found to fund the capital costs of the project.
“The transportation service (barge and terminal combined) is competitive with the existing log barge services to Prince Rupert … on an operating cost basis. Capital costs are the issue. On a total cost basis, the services to Prince Rupert … are at a slight cost disadvantage to the existing log barge service,” reads a business case study made public by the Village of Port Clements on July 31.
Figures show the operating costs from Prince Rupert to Port Clements are $3.96 per cubic metre below the existing barge service when assuming 304,000 cubic metres per year and $3.67 per cubic metre less when assuming 196,000 cubic metres per year. But when the $11.4 million capital costs and financing costs are included, the result is a service that is 14 cents per cubic metre more expensive for a 304,000 cubic metre terminal and $2.69 per cubic metre for a 196,000 cubic metre terminal.
And, the study states, the service would only be viable with complete buy-in from forestry operators on Haida Gwaii.
“Without this acceptance and participation, the terminal and barge system would not be utilized above a breakeven level and would require ongoing operating subsidies,” reads the study.
Cost aside, the report outlines a number of ways an island-owned barge and terminal could benefit Haida Gwaii. Aside from reduced costs and increasing the availability of goods on Haida Gwaii — which in turn would increase profitability of on-island businesses — through the use of a dedicated service, the report notes the project could spur on further development of the island’s logging industry.
“The logs from the forestry companies are transported on log barges. This requires the accumulation in the water of large volumes of logs prior to shipment which therefore requires an extended period of time, therefore tying up working capital for the logging companies,” it reads, also noting the terminal would allow for more timber to be shipped.
“The potential volume of logs available for transport from Haida Gwaii is equivalent to about 32,000 containers per annum.”
The terminal, which would create 58 full-time equivalent jobs during operations, would be able to ship 145 forty-foot equivalent (FEUs) containers to Prince Rupert in 14.7 hours to be unloaded at Fairview Terminal, with 145 empty FEUs and 5 loaded FEUs being shipped back to Haida Gwaii from Prince Rupert.