By Andrew Macdonald
‘Fishtocrat’ John Risley, who heads one of the world’s largest fish companies, believes the idea of moving the Halterm container terminal from southend Halifax to Dartmouth is dead in the water.
In The Macdonald Notebook last week, former deputy minister and long serving prominent bureaucrat Bernie Smith added his name to a growing list calling for Halterm to be relocated to the Imperial Oil Refinery site on the Dartmouth shore.
Risley agrees Dartmouth — “if we had a clean sheet of paper” — would have been the logical place to stage a single container facility.
“However, I accept the expense of doing that now may well be prohibitive. I believe recent studies by the (Halifax Port Authority) suggest this to be the case, albeit I have no firsthand knowledge of such studies,” Risley tells The Macdonald Notebook.
“That then begs the question, what to do,” asks Risley.
“In that context, there are a couple of myths that need to be debunked,” he says.
“The first is that using the CN rail corridor to funnel truck traffic to the Halterm site is also prohibitively expensive. That is an absolute nonsense.
“That corridor used to accommodate two-way train traffic. In fact, as a kid we would stand between moving trains just to demonstrate how stupid we were.
“No widening is necessary, a truck isn’t any wider than a train. One can easily imagine a staging area in the CN yard just to the south of the Fairview overpass where trucks would aggregate and move through a one-way lane to Halterm, alternating, say, every half hour or hour or so,” he tells The Macdonald Notebook.
“The second myth is that trucks using this corridor would be very noisy and disturb the tranquility of the residential areas abutting the tracks. Again, absolute nonsense. Trucks make noise when they’re under strain, going uphill or downhill. Moving at say 30 mph on a level roadway produces no aggressive noise signature.
“We all want the Port to grow. What we don’t want is the heavy truck traffic through downtown Halifax, an area which presumably we are trying to re-invent as a great place to live and work and friendly to pedestrians,” he adds.
“There is a solution, and those who continue to ignore the problem or proclaim this solution or any version of it to be impractical, need to get on board with some fresh thinking,” he says.
“There is no reason a busier port and a people friendly downtown area need to be mutually exclusive,” Risley said.