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Port authority maps out plan to Alberni city council

The Port Alberni Port Authority has set its short, medium and long term goals, port manager Zoran Knezevic revealed at Monday’s city council meeting.

New on the port authority agenda is an agreement in principle it just negotiated with three major fishing  companies, Knezevic said.The agreement would see the companies use Port Alberni’s waterfront infrastructure as a hub for their fleet of fishing boats. The agreement is in principle right now so Knezevic was reluctant to name any of the companies just yet.

The new breakwater has been operational since late summer and further development is planned, Knezevic said.

The port authority plans to add a fuel depot to the north end of the structure and is getting ready to put out a request for proposals for a fuel provider, he added. Also planned for the pier is a combination coffee shop, fish and chip place once a building is in place.

On the port front, Knezevic said he’s watched with growing concern the number of loaded logging trucks that leave Western Forest Products facilities in Port Alberni for the port in Nanaimo to ship logs.

Fees charged to companies by the Pacific Pilotage Authority play a role in potential shipping. “There’s potential for Western to ship directly from here but it has to be cost effective for them,” Knezevic said. “We’re trying to build a strong business case for them.”

In the medium term, the port authority is waiting to see what happens with the Compliance Coal project, whose officials have declared they will ship coal out of Port Alberni.

“If approved they will be using our port as a gateway and the volume of shipping will increase...we have to plan for that,” Knezevic said. The initiative will likely take three years or more, he added.

The port authority also envisions the port becoming a trans-shipment hub. Ships would pick up containers and ship them to points in the Lower Mainland and Puget Sound, Knezevic said.

The idea has been broached with federal officials, who in turn see initial merit in the plan. Some industries support the idea as well, he added.

Coun. Jack McLeman asked about the possibility of large pleasure yachts using port facilities.

Knezevic replied that yachts could conceivably use the north side of the breakwater as well as the Somass River side. “But I don’t know about demand,” he said.

reporter@albernivalleynews.com

Twitter.com/AlberniNews

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