The Nanaimo Port Authority Board of Directors has suspended the $22-million floating cruise ship terminal project because, to date (April 1), it has not received the federal environmental assessment permits required to proceed with tender and construction of the terminal.

“It’s with a profound sense of disappointment that we’ve been forced to make the decision to suspend this project that’s been six years in the planning,” said Bob Bennie, Board Chair of Nanaimo Port Authority.

The cruise ship terminal project was announced in August 2009 when the Port Authority was successful in securing $8.5-million of federal stimulus funding that requires expenditure of the funds and completion of the terminal by March 31, 2011.

“We’re very grateful for the federal stimulus funding we received, thanks to the hard work from John Baird, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities;  Stockwell Day, Minister of the Asia Pacific Gateway;  Nanaimo MP James Lunney, and many others,” said Bennie.

He added that tenders have to be called “without further delay” in order for construction of the terminal to be completed within the federal deadline of March 31, 2011.

The environmental assessment requires approvals from three federal ministries (Ministry of Environment;  Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans;  Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities) in consultation with Snuneymuxw First Nation.

For the past six years the Port Authority has been working with the Snuneymuxw First Nation and, in 2007, together signed a protocol agreement to guide collaborative relationships for projects such as the cruise ship terminal and future projects.

Since 2006 the Port Authority has committed $5-million of its own funds for the project, secured $5-million from the provincial government, and obtained funding commitments of $3.5-million from the Island Coastal Economic Trust and $8.5-million from the federal government.

The original plan for a fixed dock at the Assembly Wharf was changed to a floating dock because it meant a substantial reduction in the dredging requirements.

The new design incorporates a 300-metre long floating dock that will be able to accommodate the largest cruise ships to ply the west coast and could attract 30 to 40 large cruise ship visits a season, compared to the eight in 2009.