By Tom Peters

Port of Halifax will examine a new container terminal option in its next long term master plan. David Henderson, Chairman, said in an interview during Halifax Port Days, “a new terminal will be an option in the master plan. It is a greenfield site (on the Dartmouth side of the harbour). It is being discussed with our federal stakeholder,” he said.

The land under consideration is owned by the federal government. If a modern terminal was built at that location it would require dredging to take it to required depths for ultra large container ships. The terminal would be near the CN line and have access to the province’s highway system. Henderson said it has been suggested that a new terminal would cost in the vicinity of $1 billion.

Halifax presently has two designated container terminals, the southend terminal operated by Halterm Container Terminal Ltd., which is owned and operated by Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets, and the Fairview Cove Terminal, operated by Ceres Halifax Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK). Several sources have confirmed that Halterm and Ceres are presently in discussions to possibly merge their operations.

Henderson said the Port Authority would like to consolidate its terminal operations but one of the main reasons a new terminal is under consideration is to get all the truck traffic, generated by Halterm, off the downtown streets. Streets in the city’s core are very narrow and were never designed to handle large trucks hauling 20 foot and 40 foot containers.

The truck traffic has been a source of complaint for many years from both residents and businesses. In the past there have been ideas floated to eliminate the trucks from downtown such as making a truck lane along the CN rail cut out of town and building a truck marshalling yard, served by rail, outside the city. Containers would be railed to the yard where they would be loaded to trucks. Neither idea ever got by the study stage.

Henderson said the Port Board has not had any discussions with the terminal operators.

Halifax wants to be in the “big ship” game and although its two terminals, both dredged to 17 metres at their berths, can handle the large vessels, there have been some issues with the larger container ships going to Ceres. The ships have to pass under the two Halifax bridges and on at least two occasions last year, ships arrived in port lighter (with less cargo) than expected and the decision was made not to sail under the spans to Ceres. As a result, the vessels and cargo were handled at Halterm which has no bridge constrictions.

Halifax’s discussion on a major terminal development brings a third mega terminal idea into the picture for Nova Scotia.

Melford International Terminal and Cyrus Capital Partners, continue to work on their plans to build a modern container terminal at Melford, Guysborough County, on the mainland side of the Strait of Canso. Melford says its only holdback at this point is getting a long term agreement with a major shipping line.

In Sydney, Harbour Port Development Partners wants to build a major terminal, called Novaporte, to operate mainly as a transshipment hub for mega container ships with capacities of 13,000 TEUs and more. Results of a study to determine that project’s feasibility will be released this fall.