The Honourable Judy M. Foote, Minister of Public Services and Procurement, announced on February 27, 2018, the completion of key projects and upcoming investments aimed at modernizing the Esquimalt Graving Dock, the largest deep-sea shipbuilding and repair facility on North America’s West Coast.
Minister Foote, said, “These investments in the Esquimalt Graving Dock highlight our Government’s commitment to the marine sector, to Canada’s West Coast and the environment.” The Canadian government “is creating middle-class jobs, supporting economic growth and First Nations, and ensuring our environment is protected for future generations.”
Minister Foote further stated that “the additional $100 million in modernization projects over the next three years is to replace and upgrade the electrical distribution system, to refurbish the dewatering pumps and to reconstruct the south jetty. These projects will restore berthing space that was lost during the renovations, allowing for a greater operational capacity of the Esquimalt Graving Dock.”
When asked about the importance of the electrical upgrades to maintaining and attracting new customers, Minister Foote noted that the Esquimalt Graving Dock “was a strategic engine of growth” and the “electrical system along with the refurbished pumping was the backbone of the operation.”
During a site tour of the facility and visit to the new electrical room, Public Works and Government of Services Canada representatives noted that one of the main buildings housing part of the electrical infrastructure was being constructed to support a second story that would readily accommodate further growth and expansion. For example, there may be a date in the future when a cruise ship visiting the facility will be required to cold iron while in dry dock.
Minister Foote’s announcement also highlighted the results of projects totalling over $150 million, including the completion of the water lot remediation project, which saw the removal of almost 100 years of contamination, the replacement of high- and low-voltage cabling at the south substation and the replacement of the electrical supply on the north landing wharf. Three of the four stages of the water lot remediation project were completed by Aboriginal businesses through the Procurement Strategy for Aboriginal Business, for a total of $33.7 million.
The Esquimalt Graving Dock is the only “open access” multi-user facility on the West Coast of the Americas and is located at the south end of Vancouver Island at Esquimalt Harbour, in the Greater Victoria region. The term “open access” describes a facility that provides standard services (on a fee-for-service basis) and multi-user access to dry dock infrastructure for a variety of private sector companies. It is directly accessible from the Strait of Juan de Fuca, which is the shipping channel to southern British Columbia and Puget Sound in the United States.
As the largest deep-sea shipbuilding and repair facility on Canada’s Pacific Coast, Esquimalt Graving Dock’s dock measures 357 metres by 38 metres. The north landing jetty is 305 metres long and has a depth of 10 metres of water at low tide.
The Graving Dock represents 60 per cent of Canada’s Pacific Coast dry dock capacity and is one of only two West Coast dry docks with the ability to accommodate Panamax-sized vessels, including modern cruise ships. Its cranes and berth facilities are large enough to service 92 per cent of the world’s bulk carrier ships and 100 per cent of the world’s general cargo ships.
Minister Foote observed that the facility supports the provision of shipbuilding and repair services to a wide range of coastal and ocean-going vessels, including the BC Ferries’ fleet, cruise ships and the federal fleet. Its principal stakeholders are the vessel owners that rely on the facility for repair, maintenance, and refit. The Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Coast Guard, and BC Ferries, as well as several foreign and private vessel owners (including cruise ship lines) regularly use the facility.
The total economic impact of the Esquimalt Graving Dock on British Columbia’s economy is estimated at $183 million. It supports an estimated 1,300 jobs in the Greater Victoria region