By Tom Peters

Halifax Port Authority took over the management of the port of Sheet Harbour in 2012. With a number of capital improvements completed, the terminal has been showing signs of increased activity, which in turn, offers spin-off benefits to the local community.

Halifax Port Authority now operates the facility under a 10-year performance lease agreement with Nova Scotia Business Inc. The port of Sheet Harbour has a 152 metre berth which is 13.5 metres wide and has a water depth of approximately 11 metres. With a laydown area of approximately 4.5 hectares (11 acres), the facility is ideal for general, breakbulk and special project cargoes.

Patrick Bohan, Director, Supply Chain Solutions, Halifax Port Authority, says the Authority is working hard to increase business at the Sheet Harbour terminal this summer, and is pleased with the results so far. He says the additional space Sheet Harbour affords the Port is proving to be extremely complimentary. “It has certainly come in handy this summer because of the increase in the arrival of wind mill components,” he said, easing the pressure on Halifax’s Ocean Terminal where components have been filling Ocean’s laydown area. With large laydown area next to the dock, “Sheet Harbour gives us that surge capacity to take on these projects,” he said.

The terminal is accessed by trucks. “For these kinds of project cargoes around Nova Scotia and even Atlantic Canada, trucks are the method of transportation in the majority of cases,” said Bohan. “So Sheet Harbour gives us a flexible offering when it comes to serving project cargoes,” he added.

On the labour front, Logistec Stevedoring is the stevedoring company of record. “Our organization became involved in the role of operating manager at Sheet Harbour about two years ago and we decided to pursue the ‘common user’ stevedoring model that we have at HPA’s Ocean Terminals,” according to Bohan. “Logistec Stevedoring took out a stevedoring license at the port of Sheet Harbour and has been one of our supply chain partners there in that manner.”

Shawn McMahon, Logistec’s General Manager of Sales, General Cargo, said Sheet Harbour has been a good port for Logistec. “We have seen growth in the past two years and it is a good compliment to Halifax, especially with project cargoes,” he said. McMahon said Logistec is working hard to market the Sheet Harbour facility. “It is one of the ports we have on our website and port network map that we market to the carriers, the shippers and  freight forwarders as an ideal location for project cargoes going to and from Nova Scotia proper and for reload purposes,” he said.

Within the Sheet Harbour community, there has been a benefit to local employment. Jason Josey, President of Bluewater Stevedores Union, Local 2065, which provides the labour for Logistec, said he is encouraged by what is happening at Sheet Harbour and welcomes the relationship with Halifax Port Authority. He said it takes time to promote and build business, but he sees a bright future for the facility.

Bohan said the Port Authority has an extended mandate for labour at the port of Sheet Harbour which is to develop additional yard work and hours of employment. “There is an excellent work group in Sheet Harbour and we want to give them more opportunities to utilize their skills. The community is very supportive and we have been testing the market in other directions as well,” he said. “One idea in particular may be some short term ship repair and we are really seeing that as an option,” said Bohan.

Halifax Port Authority has made capital improvements in the facility such a new truck weighing scale, and major renovations in the terminal’s main building both inside and out. This year extensive work is being carried out to improve and modernize terminal lighting. In addition to the special project cargoes, the terminal also handles bulk commodities such as wood chips and other raw materials. With several mega projects underway or planned for Atlantic Canada, Sheet Harbour is ideally situated to become a marshalling hub for a variety of commodities associated with these mega projects. Halifax Port Authority has been aggressively marketing the port of Sheet Harbour, and Bohan expects those efforts to pay off. “From my point of view things look good because every time we do a job there more people that are becoming believers in what can be done there,” he said. “We have had a flurry of phone calls this summer from people asking about rates on various scenarios. So I am optimistic there will be a lot more use for this terminal as we move forward.”