Ferry service between Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Iqaluit on the horizon

The head of the Woodward Group of Companies says the deep water port in Iqaluit will open up shipping perishables, freight, and passengers from Labrador.

'It's a win-win,' says Peter Woodward

The port in Happy Valley-Goose Bay is operating at about 25 per cent capacity, according to Peter Woodward. He envisions shipping freight, passengers, and vehicles up to Iqaluit by 2020. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

The head of a Labrador shipping company says confirmation that a deep sea port will be built in Iqaluit means it's time to start planning for a ferry service between the Nunavut capital and Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

"We're looking at shipping perishables, we're looking at shipping frozen goods, construction materials, a lot of things that are currently being flown," Peter Woodward, president of the Woodward Group of Companies, told CBC News.

"This is an opportunity for efficiency, it's an opportunity to reduce government expenditures, make lives much easier to  live in northern locations. This is a win-win." 

$64 million in federal funding for the port was confirmed in January, with expectations it could open by 2020.

Woodward says the paved Trans Labrador Highway to Happy Valley-Goose Bay means trucking into the community is easy. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

Fresh milk and fruits

Woodward envisions perishables being trucked into Happy Valley-Goose Bay from hubs like Montreal and Toronto, with ships waiting to carry those goods on to the Arctic.

"We can basically have it in Goose Bay in two days, in Iqaluit in another three days. So we're far within the shelf life of a lot of the goods," said Woodward, adding goods loaded in central Canada would be untouched until they reached the north.

"The amount of damages, the costs, all those things are reduced significantly."

The Government of Nunavut's preliminary plans for a port in Iqaluit. (Government of Nunavut)

Currently, Woodward said goods arriving by boat to Iqaluit can take about a week to unload, using cranes and forklifts at high tide.

"It's a very rudimentary system," said Woodward, adding the deep water port will allow for roll-on, roll-off traffic with goods unloaded in about four hours.

Passenger service

Woodward is also looking at transporting passengers and their vehicles alongside freight.

"Someone in Iqaluit can decide to go on their vacation, and be able to access the service and get off with their truck or their vehicle in Goose Bay, and go on their vacation within three days," said Woodward.

"They won't have to rent vehicles, they can do their shopping while they're away on vacation and bring things back."

This is a win-win.- Peter Woodward

He estimates the port in Happy Valley-Goose Bay is under-utilized, with room for about 75 per cent more traffic.

"We could actually be the port of call for the eastern Arctic."

With files from Jacob Barker

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