Halifax Port Authority seeks public feedback on expansion plans

Halifax Port Authority seeks public feedback on expansion plans

The Halifax Port Authority wants public feedback on long-term expansion options for its cargo operations.

A number of ideas have been put forward, including moving the Halterm container facility to Dartmouth — a proposal that came with a $1.4-billion price tag in 2017.

That estimate doesn't include 22.5 kilometres of new rail line that would be needed, said Lane Farguson, a spokesperson for the port authority.

Port officials say there is only one viable site in Dartmouth and the earliest a development could be completed would be 2030.

"While it's possible, there are pros and cons with that option," said Farguson.

Halterm North expansion

The preferred option — which is also listed as the least expensive and easiest to build — seems to be the expansion of the Halterm facility on the north side. 

The port authority has also looked into using the existing railway cut in Halifax for increased truck traffic alongside the trains. However, that would require widening the railway cut by 25 metres, which means blasting, replacing 13 bridges and acquiring land.

The Downtown Halifax Business Commission has pushed to reduce the number of trucks in the downtown. Officials believe better use of the existing line that runs through the railway cut needs to be explored.

"I think now is the time to look at that, get the right partners around the table," said Paul MacKinnon, executive director of the business commission.

"Let's figure out what that solution looks like."

Online survey

Other ideas that have been floated include a tunnel under the Northwest Arm, the use of barges to move containers to Fairview Cove from Halterm, and raising the harbour bridges to allow for an expansion of the facility in Fairview.

But those proposals would either take too much time or would be cost prohibitive.

No final decisions have been made. The public is invited to submit comments through an online survey until April 18.