Victoria city council gave its unanimous final approval Thursday for a new graving dock — also known as a dry dock — that promises to double the number of high-paying jobs for marine tradespeople at a downtown shipyard.
According to CBC News, the $50-plus million (USD 40 million) project, at Victoria Harbour’s Point Hope Maritime shipyards still requires a lengthy federal review. But company and union officials are already calculating the economic spinoffs, which they estimate will bring 200 new jobs at wages that start near $100,000 (USD 79,000).
Phil Venoit, president of the Vancouver Island Metal Trades Council, and Electrical Workers Union, called the project “great news for people in the marine sector.”
The company pegged the regional economic impact at $60 million (USD 47.23 million) to $96 million (USD 75.57 million) annually once the dry dock is completed. It will be built to handle vessels up to 170 metres long, including most ferries and all of Canada’s navy frigates.
Shipyard owner Ralmax said that the new dry dock will double employment at Point Hope Maritime to 400 positions. (Ralmax)
When he started in the shipyards during the industry’s heyday in 1981, he said, more than 2,200 were employed by the Yarrows shipyard in Esquimalt, the navy dockyard and other smaller firms.
Those jobs declined dramatically after 1986 when the government of Canada made changes to steel subsidies for the industry, and shipbuilding contracts went overseas, Venoit said.
The industry, he said, “went from downsizing to right-sizing to almost capsizing.” What kept the industry afloat over the past decade were federal government contracts for Coast Guard vessels, ocean sciences research vessels and replenishment of the naval fleet, Venoit said.
Opportunities with LNG Conversion
Looking ahead in the shipbuilding sector, he said that the potential for liquefied natural gas (LNG) conversion of diesel-electric vessels shows potential to transform the industry. “There’s only the first one ever rolled off a German shipyard about a month and a half ago, and Victoria Shipyards is working on the second LNG conversion in the world,” Venoit said.
(Source: CBC News)
Sea News, February 26