Monday was a red-letter day for the North Shore, not to mention the rest of Canada. Federal cabinet ministers Diane Finley and Kellie Leitch made the trip west to announce that the government is ratcheting up its commitment to the Canadian Coast Guard.
Seaspan had already won a shipbuilding contract in 2011 for a polar icebreaker, three offshore fisheries science vessels, an offshore oceanographic ship and two support ships. Added to that will be five 65-metre medium endurance multi-tasked vessels and up to five 75-metre offshore patrol vessels.
"Up-to's" in government contracts are a reminder not to count your chickens until the funding is actually confirmed on a contract by contract basis. But clearly the North Shore economy is going to benefit hugely if the Conservatives continue to favour coast guard and fishery patrols over the more costly naval options.
Monday's announcement will mean Seaspan Shipyard's North Vancouver workforce will grow from its present level of little more than 150 to approximately 1,000 within the next three to four years.
Ironically the announcement comes as the City of North Vancouver debates how to finish repurposing much of its industrial waterfront. But the new contract ensures shipbuilding will remain here for at least 30 years, ending, as Finley said, "the boom and bust cycles that have long plagued the Canadian shipbuilding industry."
Seaspan has been busy transforming its site; two new buildings are complete with four more under construction, while next year will see an 86-metre gantry crane erected. Construction on the first fisheries vessel should start shortly after that. Get the champagne ready.
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