The Port of Saint John hopes it will become much more attractive to shipping companies as its renewal project continues.
The western side of the harbor is undergoing a major overhaul, with dredging to accommodate larger ships and improved docks.
The project would also see the addition of two new cranes to the West Side Container Terminal.
The new cranes, which should be operational by the end of the year, would give the terminal four cranes to move shipping containers, the most it has ever had.
Craig Estabrooks, president and CEO of Port Saint John, said ships will be able to load and unload faster, which means more ships can be accommodated.
“It will be able to operate larger vessels and be more efficient and have the most state-of-the-art cranes so that our workforce can continue its excellent record of dwell time and turnaround of this cargo. very quickly,” Estabrooks said.
“It will just continue to improve efficiency and can also accommodate larger vessels in the future.”
Goods to be marketed
He said the addition of new cranes will help the port move more goods through the supply chain and complement the growing number of rail links in the port.
Estabrooks said the port is now connected to three major railroads and could become a more attractive option for businesses looking to move their goods to Canada and the United States.
He said they were looking to compete with larger established ports like Philadelphia, Baltimore and New York.
“We have our sights set on a lot of goods that are currently entering the United States and destined for Canadian markets,” Estabrooks said.
“We believe we have an efficient way to get this through a Canadian port to get these goods to central Canada, for example.”
Training and work
The port expects more jobs to come from the modernization of the port.
Estabrooks said the port and surrounding industries employ around 3,000 people and that number is expected to increase into the hundreds with new construction.
And these new employees will need to be trained, which is why the port has invested in a crane simulator, with government funding.
Brian Duplessis, who trains new crane operators, said in his early days you had to start training on the real thing, adding that it was “trial and error”.
He calls the training simulator a “game changer”.
“We don’t have to worry if there are ships. We can bring a person here at any time of the day or night and put them on it and work on it,” Duplessis said.
“If a person is struggling on a ship…we can get a person to work on that aspect so they get better instead of losing their productivity on the ship.”
While new cranes and other improvements to the port should make it more attractive, Estabrooks admits nothing is guaranteed.
Inflation and the war in Ukraine make market forecasting impossible.
“It could slow down if we face recessionary pressures, but I think the trajectory for our port and our region will definitely improve,” Estabrooks said.