In an open letter dated March 9, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Halifax Port Authority, Mark MacDonald, and the Authority’s President and CEO, Karen Oldfield, defended the Port’s existing strategic plan and vowed that they would continue to execute it. The text of the letter is reproduced below:

We want to address questions about the Port of Halifax head on.

First, the Halifax port community is focused on growing its diverse port, and no terminals are closing or relocating. We have a Strategic Plan in place to develop and, when required, expand our current facilities and we will continue to advance that plan in close cooperation with port and community partners.

For approximately seven years, we have been asked to comment about other proposed port developments in Nova Scotia. Our focus has remained on building the Port of Halifax. Over the past five years alone, the Halifax Port Authority has invested over $147 million on world class infrastructure. Our business is extremely diverse and very strong. This is why the Standard & Poors Rating Agency has given the Halifax Port Authority an “A” stable rating, the first commercial credit rating achieved by a Canadian Port. One component of our business, containerized cargo, is highly subject to the world economy which has been extremely volatile over the past few years.

It has been suggested that the Halterm-operated terminal should close and merge with Ceres, or move to Shearwater, or move to another part of the Province, to make room for residential and commercial development on the south end land. Cargo terminals in Halifax are on federal land and the HPA manages these port assets with private sector operators. Both terminals are a key part of the Port’s long-term plan. Thanks to major private, federal and HPA investments, both terminals are well-positioned “big ship” container terminals with capacity to triple volumes, then expand to adjacent land as cargo grows.

The Halifax Port Authority, terminal operators and the rest of the port community have no interest in doing anything other than continuing the existing strategy of developing what we currently have. The Halifax Gateway Council, CN, labour unions, warehouse operators, trucking companies and many others in the supply chain have urged us to stick to our plan. We are focused on continued investment in our existing port facilities.

As required by the Canada Marine Act, the Board of Directors (including representatives of the Municipal, Provincial and Federal governments plus Port users) along with the Senior Management Team at the Halifax Port Authority have formed, and are executing a Strategic Plan. This work will continue.

We have invited all the declared mayoralty candidates to visit the port for briefings and tours. We will keep all of them apprised of our strategic plan going forward.

We’re in this for the long haul along with a committed port community.