PE & NS: Summerside is not Halifax, but port has 'increased potential'

Mike Carson
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The Journal Pioneer

While the Port of Halifax is making overtures to Prince Edward Island exporters, the Summerside Port Corporation is working to maintain and increase activity at the local port.

Downtown Summerside Inc. photo

[SUMMERSIDE, PE] — While the Port of Halifax is making overtures to Prince Edward Island exporters, the Summerside Port Corporation is working to maintain and increase activity at the local port.

“Through our port study and the work that has been going on over the last two and a half months, we have met the majority of exporters in P.E.I. to talk about their requirements for what they’re doing now, what they see coming down the road, and we’re trying desperately to position ourselves to be able to accommodate them any way we can,” said corporation president, Arnold Croken.

“There’s so much volume going through Halifax, they have an advantage in attracting part-cargo shipments, whereby that doesn’t work as well for us.”

Another restriction is that “the larger ships can’t get a full load out of Summerside.”

Recently the Port of Halifax pitched its divers cargo handling capabilities to the Island’s agricultural community.

Patrick Bohan, manager of business development for the Halifax Port Authority said they were not trying to steal business from P.E.I.

“Business is business,” Croken said. “We’re in their area asking the same questions. So, we’re as guilty as they are.

“We’re trying to increase the business here. So, we’ve had discussions with the shippers about new technologies and ways shipping may be changing that will allow us to be more competitive. Halifax has all of the infrastructure in place for containers and we don’t and that’s a challenge or us. But that doesn’t mean it’s not possible,” he said, adding “but we’ve got to get some business.”

Halifax’s strong point is its capability to handle large volumes of container traffic, but Croken said Summerside could manage some, if the traffic volume was there.

“There are applications that are designed around mobile units that are moved into smaller ports… But at the volume of business we have now, it just doesn’t warrant it.”

As far as Island exporters go, they are going to look for the best deal.

“It all comes down to costs,” Croken said. “If it’s more cost effective to be in Halifax, that’s where they’re going to go. It’s all about the bottom line.

“We certainly have advantages here with the bulk cargoes that go on pallets, with those ships that come in with their own loading booms. Summerside has been very competitive,” he said.

Organizations: PE & NS, Summerside Port, Halifax Port Authority

Geographic location: Halifax, Summerside, Prince Edward Island

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