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Major new dock at Sarnia Harbour to cost $6 million, boost local manufacturing

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Troy Shantz

The design work is finished for a major new dock to be built at Sarnia Harbour.

When complete, the $6-million Cestar Dock will be the entry point to Sarnia-Lambton’s oversized load corridor, allowing large industrial components to be rolled-on and rolled-off specially equipped cargo ships.

The dock is meant to help local metal fabricating and manufacturing firms that make pressure vessels, heat exchangers and large industrial “modules” get them to market.

Likewise, it will make it easier for local industry to bring in special components.

Sheet steel piles will be driven into the seabed and backfilled to create a 4,800-square-metre dock that extends out into the North Slip, said city engineer David Jackson.

That’s about half the size of a CFL football field.

“A number of loads could be driven right on (using ramps) rather than have a crane on-site. That will make it both easier… and safer.”

The facility will come with a large storage yard as well, Jackson said.

The dock is being named for Cestar College, a private Toronto career college licensed by Lambton College that is providing $4-million for the project.

Meanwhile, the Oversized Load Corridor itself is also progressing.

Nearly all the utility poles on Exmouth Street have been replaced to accommodate the extra-wide and high loads, city staff says.

A traffic signal that can be rotated out of the way has been added to the intersection of Murphy Road and Confederation Street.

More than 100 new utility poles have been installed along the route, and 52 high and low-voltage crossings have been re-routed underground.

Completion of the corridor is expected in 2022.

The cost of the entire project is $16.9 million, with $3.2 million coming from Sarnia. Lambton County is contributing $2.2 million and St. Clair Township $30,000.

The federal National Trade Corridor Fund is providing $6 million, with another $1.5 million from the Southwestern Ontario Development Fund.

The Sarnia Lambton Industrial Alliance, which represents about 40 manufacturers and organizations that will benefit from the corridor, is contributing $10,000.

In addition, Bluewater Power is covering the $2 million cost of replacing utility poles and upgrading hydro infrastructure along the 27-kilometre route.

In 2017, the Oversized Load Corridor was projected to cost $12 million. Since then, construction costs have risen, design standards are more stringent, and other unforeseen issues were identified in more detailed engineering work, according to a 2020 staff report.

Whenever an oversized load currently passes through the city, the labour needed to move wires and light fixtures, as well as permits and arrangements with local and provincial governments, adds $150,000 to $250,000 to the overall cost.

Proponents say the corridor and new dock will create high-paying manufacturing and trade jobs and give local companies easier access to international markets.


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