Taxpayers to fund multibillion-dollar expansion of facility to handle repairs on cruise ships, ferries and some federal vessels

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Public Services and Procurement Canada indicated the entire bill will be paid for by federal money. The federal government describes the Esquimalt Graving Dock as the largest non-military hard-bottom dry dock on the west coast of the Americas. The government considers it vital for the marine industry on the west coast.

“The redevelopment will also attract additional tenants that lease space for repair, refit, and maintenance, adding hundreds of highly paid and skilled trades jobs,” the department noted in its email.

PSPC noted that an initial cost estimate for the expansion is expected in April 2021.

But previous work at the nearby Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt provides a hint at how expensive the project will be. The construction of two jetties at the base to handle new naval supply ships and the Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships cost $743 million.

The plan for the graving dock facility calls for extending the docking areas, building new offices and warehouses, and extending the existing wharf.

A request for proposals will be issued in January for some of the design of the infrastructure. That will allow the government to get a better handle on the costs.

“The design, scope and substantive cost estimates will be provided in late 2021,” PSPC noted in its email. The department noted that an independent analysis indicated the facility was expected to exceed its capacity by 2023.

In addition to the ferries and cruise ships, the graving dock will be used by the private contractors to conduct scheduled maintenance on Halifax-class frigates and Victoria-class submarines over the next decade.