MELFORD – Although it has been more than 15 years since the idea of a multi-million-dollar industrial development along the Strait of Canso in this Guysborough County community was pitched – and no ground has been broken – that doesn’t mean its supporters do not continue to have confidence in its future.
“The proponents of this project and obviously the investors who have continued to fund our progress and our operations have never lost their belief that this project makes a lot of sense,” Richie Mann – Melford International Terminal Inc.’s vice president marketing – told the Journal in a Feb. 27 phone interview.
The company, which wants to build and operate an estimated $350-million international shipping container terminal, recently announced it had received a two-year extension to its deadline to start construction from the Nova Scotia government.
“It is nothing new in the global shipping industry,” Mann said of the deadline extension.
He explained that in 2007, when his company purchased land from the province for the project in Melford, the agreement contained what he described as “milestones,” including a deadline for when construction was required to get underway. If that provision was not met, he said, “[The province] would have the option to buy back the land.”
Noting that this is the fifth or sixth extension greenlighted since the sale agreement was brokered, Mann offered that the province must see Melford’s plan remains the “best use of the property,” or “they wouldn’t provide the renewals.”
He suggested that provincial officials recognize the potential opportunities, including “jobs and wealth” that come with the proposed development.
“I think they see that it can be beneficial to Canada – particularly on the east coast,” Mann said.
Even though the project may not always be in the spotlight, he pointed out, “We are working at it full time.”
Mann added that they have a “team that wants to make it happen.”
“Everyone is doing their due diligence,” he explained, while ensuring that “all our ducks are in a row.”
Mann offered that a project of such magnitude – and the level of financial commitment involved – supporters must be confident in receiving a “return on their investment.” He explained that they have to be committed to the long-term nature of the project – one that will have to be sustainable and pay dividends for 75 to 100 years.
Noting the worldwide shipping conditions – such as the growing shift from the west to east coast – are buttressing the Melford proposal, Mann said that they are “very optimistic.”
“Our project addresses a lot of the changing demographics in the shipping industries,” he added, noting that those conditions are “very favourable.”
Mann said that his company is “still able to make a strong business case” for its proposal.
Although he agreed he doesn’t have a crystal ball – while conceding the uncertainty of the industry – he expects construction of the shipping container terminal to get underway before the next deadline comes up in the fall of 2024.