Nova Scotia

Irving shipyard may use 2010 loan for upgrade

Halifax's Irving shipyard bid for the national shipbuilding contract will be decided in September, and now CBC News has learned that if needed, any shipyard expansion may be financed with an unused $20-million Nova Scotia government loan.

A $20-million loan from the province may help expand the shipyard if it wins the national shipyard contract

With a $30-billion national shipyard contract decision coming in September, the Irving shipyard in Halifax may be able to tap into an unused $20-million loan from the Nova Scotia government to expand.

Last Friday, the shipyard filed notice with the federal government for an expansion in advance of its hopes to win the bid.

"The goal is to get environmental assessments and other requirements well underway in order that Irving Shipbuilding be in a position to proceed promptly once the NSPS decision is made and the project ultimately requires such facilities," said Irving spokeswoman Mary Keith in a statement to CBC News Wednesday.

An environmental assessment is a requirement of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, ensuring that no work would be done that could harm fish habitat.

The project includes extension of the existing marginal wharf, 10 metres into Halifax harbour and 250 metres long — and includes dredging, new buildings and a ship launching facility.

The loan was given in February 2010, months before Ottawa announced its ship procurement and was intended for a modernization, and will now fund some of the expansion.

The Irving shipyard said it has spent $90 million training workers and upgrading facilities over the past five years.

Irving has spoken previously about its expansion plans to land the National Ship Procurement Strategy contract.

"There's been no draw by the Irvings on that money," said Minister of Economic and Rural Development Percy Paris. "If they have success with that bid, then that $20 million will become part of the bid process."

The 2010 loan is separate from another promise of unspecified financial assistance from the Nova Scotia government contained in the bid.