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FORESTRY WEEK: SanTerm looks at long term for lumber exports in Port Alberni

Transition of operations from Port Alberni Port Authority to San Terminals moves forward
The Mount Rainier is moored at Port Alberni Port Authority’s Berth 3 to receive a load of raw logs on May 28, 2021. Berth 3 will become busier after San Group announced June 2, 2021 it has reached a deal to ship finished lumber products. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

San Terminals Inc. is looking at the long game when it comes to shipping lumber products from Port Alberni’s deepsea terminal.

San Terminals and the Port Alberni Port Authority entered into an agreement more than a year ago for SanTerm to operate Berth 3, the main shipping terminal on Port Alberni’s waterfront. SanTerm is in the midst of developing expansion plans, says Joe Spears, SanTerm’s general manager. But it takes time.

“We’re still putting together a business case,” Spears said in mid-September. “The goal long term is to ship forest products and other products out of there as well as importing cargo.”

Spears said the announcement about infrastructure upgrades was premature, but upgrading to a multi-modal port is still part of SanTerm’s plans. Discussions with various federal government departments are ongoing: Spears said SanTerm would like to gain first port of entry status with a customs office at the Port Alberni facility.

At one time Port Alberni saw 236 ships per year dock at Berth 3. Spears said SanTerm would like to meet that number again. He believes it can happen.

Besides red tape, a worldwide dearth of shipping containers has further stalled plans to ship cargo in and out of the port. Otherwise, the interest is there.

“All that’s been going on in the background. The long-term future looks excellent,” he said.

Susie Quinn

About the Author: Susie Quinn

A journalist since 1987, I proudly serve as the Alberni Valley News editor.
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