Construction is set to begin on a massive new North Shore grain terminal in the new year.
G3 Global Holdings has announced its final investment decision for a 180,000-tonne terminal at the foot of Brooksbank Avenue, where Western Stevedoring’s 65-acre West Gate breakbulk terminal now sits.
Once completed, it will hold 48 14-storey grain silos, an 80-metre tall work building, and a one-kilometre rail loop capable of holding three trains more than 130 cars long.
The new terminal will be quite unlike its competitors in the area including Richardson International, Cargill Canada and Viterra, according to Karl Gerrand, chief executive officer of G3. The rail loop means there will be no shunting of train cars or revving of engines and the elevator and silos will be more advanced, meaning they should be less of a problem for neighbours down wind and in earshot.
“The last new terminal that was built in the Vancouver area was back in the 1960s. Man first took steps on the moon in 1969, to put things in perspective. It’s been a long time. There have been a lot of technology improvements since that time. Our facility is going to be state of the art and everything we’ve learned in the last 50 years is going to be put into this facility,” Gerrand said. “We’re thrilled to be part of the North Shore and the City of North Vancouver and proud to be part of the community. We look forward to being good neighbours and good responsible citizens.”
Gerrand said he expects hundreds of employees will be hired for the three years of construction, plus “50-ish” full-time skilled employees on site once it’s online in 2020.
The exact total of the investment isn’t being released.
“I can tell you it’s an absolute megaproject and it’s hundreds of millions of dollars we’re spending on it,”Gerrand said.
Driving the investment is five per cent annual growth in grain production in the prairies and strong demand overseas. Richardson nearly doubled its export capacity with new silos that came online this year.
G3 is a joint venture of U.S. agribusiness Bunge and Saudi Agricultural and Livestock Investment Co., which also has xport terminals in eastern Canada.
The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority gave approval for the project in June, subject to 74 conditions, something Gerrand said the company is on track to meet.
Still, a group of residents who lobbied heavily against the project is regarding the news as a “very sad day in North Vancouver.”
“We still believe there’s been no public consultation on this G3 terminal,” said Holly Cole, spokeswoman for Stop G3. “This is being done to us, not with us or for us. It will be an ugly scar on the North Shore harbour that will spew dust and chemicals into our air and add more noise with 24/7 trains and 24/7 operations.”
As G3 takes over the property, Western Stevedoring will start moving its West Gate breakbulk operations over to the East Gate terminal at the foot of Mountain Highway.
This will require the port authority will to expand its land holdings, enveloping a number of light industrial properties north of the East Gate terminal.
Those properties are owned by developer Darwin Properties.
The port and Darwin are now planning to conduct a land swap, trading the industrial lots for an undeveloped plot owned by the port north of Dollarton Highway.
The convoluted property trading comes as the District of North Vancouver is planning long-term changes for the Maplewood area, involving new residential development, commercial space and light industrial land.
The land swap means a large portion of the Dollarton land will now fall under district jurisdiction instead of federal control.
“All of a sudden we’re now able to do a town plan that stretches from virtually the Tsleil-Waututh reserve all the way down to the Seymour River,” said Mayor Richard Walton.
District council, however, is lamenting the loss of the businesses that are being evicted to make way for port expansion in the meantime.
“Were we pleased? Not particularly,” Walton said.
Western Stevedoring president Bred Eshleman said the land swap, evictions and changes to his company’s terminals were likely inevitable.
“Whether G3 went ahead or not, this was still going ahead,” he said.
Eshleman said he understands the concern about the evicted light industrial tenants but said there will be a net increase in industrial land on the North Shore once all of the development is complete.
“It’s going to be a plus at the end of the day,” he said.
The District of North Vancouver is being compensated $8.1 million – the market rate – for the streets it’s giving up next to East Gate, which will become part of the expanded waterfront industry.
That money is being set aside for future strategic land purchases for the district’s benefit, Walton said.