Irving invests $300 million in upgrades

Jacob Boon
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Shipyard contract will end "boom and bust" cycle for workers, says Minister of Public Works.

Jim Irving stands by Justice Minister Peter MacKay, Minister of State Candice Bergen and Minister of Public Works and Government Services Diane Finley (far right).

Over the next two years, Irving will invest $300 million to modernize its Halifax Shipyard in preparation for its federal shipbuilding contract.

That was the announcement today, Aug. 21, at Aerotech Business Park by J.D. Irving CEO Jim Irving. Also speaking were federal Minister of Public Works Diane Finley, Justice Minister Peter MacKay and Premier Darrell Dexter.

“We made the decision to build these ships right here at home and create over 15,000 jobs across the country,” said Finley, “and infuse $2 billion in annual economic benefits to Canada over the next 30 years.”

Minister Finley added that the new shipyards would put an end to the “boom and bust” cycle of shipbuilding that has caused routine layoffs.

The industry appear to be in the midst of the “bust” half of the cycle, as Irving laid off 39 workers from its shipyard on Aug. 16. More layoffs are expected by the end of September, as renovations to the shipyard ramp up.

Premier Dexter assured the crowd at today’s announcement that despite the layoffs, the shipbuilding contract is still a win for the province.

“What would happen if we didn’t have this contract? These other shipbuilding contracts would still come to an end. People would still face the same kind of uncertainty,” Dexter said.

“Instead of having to wait through cycle after cycle after cycle, they know there’s going to be a long term future for them, in front of them. This is a very good news story.”

Irving was awarded the $25 billion federal contract in October 2011 to build 21 combat vessels for the navy. On top of that, the company received a $260 million loan from the provincial government to help with the shipyard upgrades.

According to Irving, $127.7 million in contracts for the renovations have already been awarded to suppliers and subcontractors. A total investment of $300 million is expected by 2015. The company also says 733 full-time equivalent positions have been created through the contracts.

“To all our vendors, just one word, we’re counting on you,” Jim Irving told the crowd. “We’re on the move, you’re all part of the team. Let’s get this job done.”

Irving says 53 per cent of the contracts’ value has been awarded to companies owned or operating in Nova Scotia.

Those include Dexter Construction, Ellis Don, CleanEarth Technologies, Black & MacDonald, Conquest Engineering, Atlantic Cat and Vector Demolition, among others.

The new Halifax shipyard site will include a new assembly hall, a dedicated paint area, and several other upgrades. An off-site steel fabrication facility will be created on Windmill Road in Dartmouth, employing 20 workers “at peak.”

A new parking garage at the shipyard, able to accommodate 520 cars, will be completed by January of 2014.

The first steel for the new Arctic patrol vessels is expected to be cut in 2015, with the first ship completed by 2018. 

Organizations: J.D. Irving, Dexter Construction, Conquest Engineering Halifax

Geographic location: Aerotech Business Park, Canada, Nova Scotia Windmill Road Dartmouth Arctic

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