Situated on the Bay of Chaleur, the Port of Belledune is on course as a key engine of economic activity in northeastern New Brunswick.
Currently executing a multi-year strategic plan to enhance its capabilities and create new opportunities for itself, its tenants, the surrounding community, and the region at large, this world-class, ice-free, year-round, deep-water port takes its role as a regional catalyst seriously.
“Consider that only three years ago, we were handling maybe a total of 10 product types,” CEO and President Denis Caron says. “Today, we’re up to 24 different bulk products. We are deliberately diversifying our mix and entering new markets—for export and import.”
The effort is paying off. In 2018, the Port registered its best year ever for volume of tonnage handled, as well as for revenue and profit levels. For the region, it supported more than 3,000 jobs, generated a total of $264 million in economic value, and accounted for $185.3 million in local income/spending.
Meanwhile, a timely $17-million investment through the federal government’s National Trades Corridors Fund last year began to enhance the speed and efficiency with which the Port moves Canadian goods to international markets.
“The first phase of the Port’s expansion has really been to optimize our operations—to connect the dots,” Caron says. “We have terminals, rail, highway access, and bulk cargo equipment. By connecting the infrastructure together, we are becoming more efficient and cost competitive.”
Phase two of the plan involves a new value-added approach to product development and handling. Says Caron: “One of our key advantages, compared with other eastern seaboard ports, is that we have about 1,600 acres of industrial land on which to mix materials and create new products, which we can then ship back out to global and domestic markets.”
Meanwhile, the Port executes its role in the region in other ways, including: The Relationship, Engagement and Consultation Protocol with MIT, Pabineau First Nation, and Eel River Bar First Nation; community sponsorships and donations; and a focus on becoming an increasingly green marine organization.
Says Caron: “We are working towards growth in every way that matters.” •