Belledune port gets $7M from province to expand
Over 250 jobs to be created during construction phase
A $7 million investment to increase capacity at the Port of Belledune will help the entire province, not just the local community, says Belledune Mayor Joe Noel.
"The Port of Belledune is the hub for all of northern New Brunswick, pretty much for all of New Brunswick," Noel said after the money for the port was announced Thursday.
"It's probably one of the biggest assets New Brunswick has."
The port, which has been in operation for over 50 years, is a year-round, deep-water port that handles bulk products, or products that arrive unrefined and need storage space before being exported.
"Anytime we can get money to expand it's a good thing," Noel said.
The $7 million from the province consists of a $5 million grant and a $2 million loan from the Northern New Brunswick Economic Development and Innovation Fund.
It is part of a $21-million project to fill the water gap between two of the terminals and enlarge the berth by 15,000 square metres.
Port of Belledune CEO Denis Caron said this will help improve the port's ability to move cargo between terminals and to and from ships.
"It essentially gives us more space to bring in more materials. We're actually running out of space to store that material on so this project gives us more space."
The expansion will also make the loading and unloading operations more efficient, Caron said.
"If we're more efficient we become that much more competitive in the open market."
Products shipped through Belledune include road salt from Morocco and industrial wood pellets destined for the United Kingdom.
Over the past four to five years, Caron said, Belledune has been able to increase the number of different bulk products being imported or exported to 24 from 10, and more will be added.
"What really we've been able to do as well is increase our volume," he said. "We're on a growth mode. We're averaging 15 to 20 per cent per year growth. Hence the reason we need to expand our terminals."
Caron said a shipment of 40,000 to 50,000 tonnes would fill an area the size of a hockey arena.
More than 250 jobs are expected to be created during the two-year construction period, and Caron said the spinoffs, from the increased cargo will create more direct and indirect jobs.
The port already supports more than 3,050 direct and indirect jobs in New Brunswick, he said.
Noel said all the project, with the promise of more jobs, is good news for the region.
"The people who work at the port, they're looking down the road into the future," he said.
"It's always important for the whole area, Belledune especially, but the whole area."