Shipbuilding stakeholders talk shop in Esquimalt

Seaspan, post-secondary institutions, federal government, Township represented at roundtable discussion

Have you ever watched an $8-billion brainstorming session?

That’s exactly what took place in Esquimalt last week, as the Township hosted a roundtable discussion with the major stakeholders connected to Seaspan’s federal shipbuilding contract.

“(The roundtable) was extremely valuable, because it put navy, dockyard and Seaspan all in the same room, along with the people working to provide the education to the workers for those facilities,” Mayor Barb Desjardins said afterward.

The forum included representatives from the British Columbia Institute of Technology and Camosun College, where many of the 3,000 tradespeople that will be needed before 2020 at Seaspan’s Victoria and Vancouver shipyards will be trained.

The discussion was intended to help Esquimalt council and staff understand their role in the monumental economic activity ramping up in the region.

“The service of the fleet is more lucrative than the building of the fleet,” John Shaw, Seaspan’s vice-president of business development, said at the meeting. “In Vancouver, once you launch the ship, it’s launched.”

Ship repair will translate into at least 30 years of sustainable jobs in the shipyards, if the company stays competitive with other shipyards on the West Coast, Shaw said.

Esquimalt is undertaking an economic development process that includes consultation with seven sectors, including the latest session with shipbuilding and national defence.

The roundtable discussions provide a venue for each stakeholder to suggest strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to their sector. It is then the township’s job to come up with practical ways of spurring development forward.

“We’re asking who makes up community and how we can help them, while maintaining what’s best for residents,” Desjardins said.

Alex Reuben, chair of the province’s shipbuilding and repair task force, was at the meeting and agreed with Shaw that ship repair is the key to Esquimalt’s long-term economic success.

Reuben is also executive director of the Marine Training and Applied Research Centre. The industry-led centre, on Songhees Nation land adjacent to Esquimalt, is billed by the province as a worker training site and a focal point for applied research to help meet increased business demand.

“The stability of the Seaspan contract, going forward, sets our shipbuilding and repair dockyard on a secure footing that it’s never had before,” Desjardins said.

“If what we’ve done in any way facilitates better communication for those partnerships, then we’ve already started to succeed in helping this industry do better.”

Roundtable discussions with other sectors, including education, developers and First Nations will take place over the coming months. A draft community economic development strategy should be ready to present to council this spring, Desjardins said.

dpalmer@vicnews.com

Just Posted

VicPD arrest reportedly armed man wanted on Canada-wide warrant

The man was found near Centennial Square on Tuesday afternoon

Port Renfrew man charged with animal cruelty

Hot coffee poured on dog’s face, say police

Victoria shipyard awarded one-third of $1.5 billion frigate-repair contracts

The federal government has promised to invest $7.5 billion to maintain the 12 frigates

Property registration crucial for Oak Bay’s deer contraception program

Got deer? Want them gone? Do your part, register your property!

Saanich sponsors Jeux de la Francophonie giving $50,000 for the French-language Games

Couns. Susan Brice and Nathalie Chambers opposed funding, citing substantive and procedural concerns

VIDEO: Black bear caught climbing tree in Langford neighbourhood

Triangle Mountain residents on alert following bear sighting

Report of dead body in B.C. park actually headless sex doll

This discovery, made at Manning Park on July 10, led police to uncovering two other sex mannequins

Grand Forks fire chief found to have bullied, harassed volunteer firefighter: report

WorkSafeBC, third-party human resources investigation looking into allegations complete

Taekwondo instructor, 21, identified as B.C. bat rabies victim

Nick Major, 21, an instructor at Cascadia Martial Arts in Parksville

15-year-old with imitation gun caused ‘dynamic’ scene at Nanaimo mall

No one was harmed in Monday’s incident, say Nanaimo RCMP

B.C. on right road with tougher ride-hailing driver rules, says expert

The provincial government is holding firm that ride-hailing drivers have a Class 4 licence

RCMP investigating alleged ‘sexual misconduct’ by cyclist on BCIT campus

BCIT said they were reviewing video evidence of the incident

New home cost dips in B.C.’s large urban centres

Victoria, Kelowna, Vancouver prices decline from last year

Graphic suicide scene edited out of ‘13 Reasons Why’ finale

Suicide prevention groups support the decision

Most Read