Saint John Industrial Parks Ltd.

The Saint John Industrial Parks Ltd. is looking for support for a new $8 million barge terminal. (Saint John Industrial Parks Ltd.)

Saint John Industrial Parks Ltd.’s management will be pitching a new $8 million barge terminal near Lorneville to members of the city’s Progressive Conservative caucus on Friday.

The $8 million terminal was first discussed in the 1970s but local companies are now pressing hard to have it built.

Business and union leaders want the new facility so companies can bid on the construction of oversized components that cannot be transported to customers on regular highways.

Saint John Coun. Gerry Lowe, a member of the Saint John Industrial Parks board, said he wants a commitment to see the proposed facility built in the next year.

“These people in this park could have built stuff and it could have been shipped out of here, which would have meant jobs that we lost,” Lowe said.

“So to me it's to be done, should be done right away and, hopefully, we can be in business the next year, the year 2015.”

Saint John Industrial Parks Ltd. has set aside $1.5 million for the project and it is requesting the federal and provincial governments to kick in another $3.25 million each to the project.

The proposed barge terminal has already received conditional environmental approval.

Work has already started to prepare a piece of land for the facility.

Lack of terminal is costing companies work

Brian Irving, the general manager of Saint John Industrial Parks Ltd., walked across the property where trees have been cut down for what he hopes will be an extra wide roadway to a cove in Saint John's outer harbour.

If completed, it will let local companies build massive components for things such as ships, mines and power plants. These are all items that are too large to be moved by highway.

"They're just large, oversized components. They could be pre-built buildings. In Newfoundland, a firm out of Texas, built seven-storey buildings that just snapped into place," he said.

The lack of a barge terminal has kept some businesses in the industrial park from growing.

Styve Dumouchel, the chief executive officer of Lorneville Mechanical, said on Wednesday he has been unable to bid on some very large projects because there is no way to get the components from his plant in Saint John's Spruce Lake Industrial Park to customers in places such as the United States, Newfoundland and Labrador and Canada's north.

Bill Shannon, the president of W & S general contractors in the Spruce Lake Industrial Park, said he also believes many companies in the park now are missing out on work.

"There's going to be a lot of people that are going to want to be close to this," he said.

"These things are all coming up and we haven't got a fair crack at them without being able to get the product to market."

Shannon's company would benefit indirectly from the construction of a barge terminal. His company could work on components that are being built in the industrial park.

W & S also owns land in the industrial park, which Shannon said he hopes to develop for new companies that he believes will come when the barge terminal is in place.