Halifax Port Authority plans expansion of south-end terminal

Published August 29, 2018 – 7:09pm
Last Updated August 29, 2018 – 7:21pm

Some people might not like it, but the Halifax Port Authority has “temporary plans” to expand the Halterm container terminal by extending a pier south.

That means the containers, which have become a part of the people’s enjoyment of Point Pleasant Park for many year, will soon have an even larger presence.

The port authority says the expansion of the container terminal is necessary due to “unprecedented change and growth” in the shipping industry.

Huge container vessels are now a factor in the movement of goods around the world and the supporters of the port authority say Halifax must be ready “to welcome the world to our waterfront,” according to a news release the authority distributed on Wednesday.

After spending time checking with various groups and “studying every available option” the port authority said it will expand its cargo and cruise ship infrastructure and reduce the number of trucks carrying containers on downtown streets by 2020.

“We now need to upgrade our infrastructure to berth two of these (ultra-class) vessels simultaneously in order to remain competitive and secure Canada’s supply chain,” it stated in its release.

An ultra-class container ship is at least 400 metres in length and is capable of carrying 10,000 containers or more.

During the first phase of the changes it proposes, the authority says it will work with Halterm to “temporarily expand” capacity at the south-end container terminal — 135 metres in length and 63 metres wide — so that it will be capable of berthing and servicing two so-called ultra-class vessels at once.

“This is our most cost-effective and environmentally sustainable solution to ensure Halifax has the capacity it needs going into 2020,” the authority stated.

It says the temporary pier extension at Halterm, at a cost of $35 million, will give the authority time to continue with a more detailed, long-term plan for the future of the port.

It is common knowledge the port authority has been looking at moving one or more of its container terminals to the Dartmouth side of the harbour. A move across the harbour, some believe would remove much of the impediments to port expansion, such as the downtown truck traffic and trying to squeeze the ultra-class ships under the harbour bridges.

There is no mention of moving one of more of the terminals in the port authority release. However, during the second phase of its redevelopment plan, the authority wants to know what people think the Port of Halifax of the future should look like.

“A preferred option we are continuing to explore is expanding our infrastructure at the south-end container terminal … north to provide the space we need to accommodate the biggest ships, with room for equipment and connections to road and rail,” the authority stated.

As the port authority makes plans for expanded infrastructure, it also wants to find ways to reduce truck traffic downtown.

“Currently, we are exploring a number of potential short-term solutions: converting the majority of truck exports and imports from New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island to rail via a ramp in Moncton; collecting data through our port operations centre to map container truck flows to avoid peak congestion times; exploring the option of a yard in Burnside Industrial Park for the handling and transfer of empty containers; exploring the option of converting truck exports and imports from northeastern Nova Scotia to rail via a ramp in Trenton (Pictou County).”

Some may suggest the effort to remove some of the truck traffic from the provincial capital’s downtown seems to make the private-sector proposal for a container terminal in Melford, Guysborough County more attractive. But that’s a debate for another day.

To meet the needs of the growing cruise ship trade in Halifax the port authority indicated it has identified a number of options on both Halifax and Dartmouth sides of the harbour, which could create new opportunities for the community.