Port of Halifax explores expansion options

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WATCH: The Port of Halifax is expanding. The Port Authority is working on temporary berths for bigger container ships but it's also eyeing something more permanent. Alicia Draus reports – Jan 25, 2019

Each year, hundreds of thousands of metric tonnes worth of cargo moves through the Port of Halifax. A recent report found that port-related activity in Halifax is worth  $1.7 billion in economic benefit.

But larger ships are becoming more common, so the port authority is looking at ways to expand their facility.

READ MORE: Port of Halifax breaks cargo container volume record in 2017

“We know that to to be relevant in this game we need to be able to berth and service two [large ships] so the vessels can maintain their vessel reliability and schedules,” said Lane Farguson with the Halifax Port Authority.
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A professor emerita with Dalhousie University’s Rowe School of Business agrees that an expansion is needed to stay competitive.

“If the cargo is not moved through Halifax, it will be moving through New York or Norfolk or some U.S. port that will provide the service,” said Mary Brooks.

“Then it will have to come back into our country.”

The Port Authority is now considering four options:

  • Expanding Halterm to the north
  • Expanding Halterm to the south
  • Expanding Halterm to the east
  • Moving the terminal to Dartmouth

The most costly of the four is moving the terminal to Dartmouth. The estimated cost in 2017 was $1.4 billion. The move would also require an additional investment in rail infrastructure as 60 per cent of cargo that moves through Halifax does so through rail.

“Some extension of the existing facility makes the most logical sense,” said Brooks.

WATCH: Another record year expected for Halifax’s cruise ship visits

Click to play video: 'Another record year expected for Halifax’s cruise ship visits' Another record year expected for Halifax’s cruise ship visits
Another record year expected for Halifax’s cruise ship visits – Oct 4, 2018

The quickest and most cost-effective option is expanding to the north. It would involve infilling the main Ocean Terminal slips between Piers A, A1 and B.

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If that option is chosen, the Halifax Port Authority would need to find alternate ways of accommodating some cruise ships. During peak cruise season when Halifax receives five cruise ships in a day, some will berth at the Ocean Terminal.

READ MORE: Halifax Port Authority exploring potential cruise-ship berths at Alderney Landing, Purdy’s Wharf

The Halifax Port Authority is still exploring all options and there is no timeline for a permanent expansion. In the meantime, work has begun to add a temporary expansion to the south of Halterm with the hopes of accommodating two large ships at the same time by 2020.

The temporary extension will add 135 metres to the facility giving it a total length of 800 metres.

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