Will Squamish Benefit from Seaspan ? Not in the Way Council Wishes


Three offshore fisheries science vessels, above, would be the first ships to be built at Seaspan in North Vancouver. Squamish council has talked about setting up a training or an educational facility in the Northyards, but we might have missed the boat on that. Photo: Supplied graphic

By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: Jan. 27, 2013

We have the deep-water port, the rail link, and presumably unemployed people looking for stable, well-paying jobs once found on every turn in town.

Not too far away, one of the biggest ship building contracts is underway, with hundreds, if not thousands of jobs, waiting to be gradually filled.

The possibilities are tantalizing.

So, will we get a piece of the pie? Yes and no.

Yes, if we pitch ourselves as a bedroom community, an Eden after a hard day of toil.

No, if we imagine ourselves as a place where future Seaspan workers will be trained.

Our council has wallowed in that thought for a while, but their efforts seem to be missing velocity.

Mayor Kirkham is having those discussions, or so he would like us to believe.  

At a recent economic development, Kirkham said the district was talking to Seaspan in the hopes of setting up a training facility in town.

“We have been in touch with them for a training facility in Northyards,” he said.

Mayor Kirkham couldn’t respond to questions asking for details about the talks by press time.

Seaspan, however, has decided on training facilities, and Squamish doesn’t figure in those plans.

“We haven’t entertained the idea of constructing another training facility, outside of what is established,” said Francis.

Francis also said she is not aware of anyone contacting them from Squamish. 

“They need to book a time and have a serious discussion with us,” said,” said Kelly Francis, communications coordinator for Seaspan.

She said the newly opened IMTARC, the Industrial Marine Training and Applied Research Centre, in Esquimalt will train some of its work force.

The new centre will offer entry-level training and offer apprenticeship programs.

Besides IMTARC, Seaspan is also working with BCIT, etc for more traditional job requirements.

Squamish might have missed the boat on a training facility in town, but it can certainly benefit from jobs, she added.

At present, Seaspan is hiring for the leadership team, including technical manager, engineers, and even VPs.

Hiring for assembly line, production jobs will begin in the fall.

But the hiring would be gradual.

“People might mistakenly think we will go from 200 people to 3000 people in one fell swoop, but this is going to be more of an incremental change,” Francis said.

Coun. Ron Sander was the first to point out the potential of Seaspan for Squamish.

He wrote a letter to the council when he was a municipal candidate.

After his election, he said he brought up the issue with Minister Pat Bell, Naomi Yamamoto, and other senior staff in Victoria.

But he also said ultimately, Seaspan has to decide whether it’s a good business decision for them to locate their business here.

Meanwhile, Seaspan is embarking on a $200 million upgrade at the shipyard.

The overhaul will better enable Seaspan to deliver on the $8 billion shipbuilding contract with the federal government.

Seaspan has orders for seven ships, and it expects to quadruple its work force in the next four years.


  1. Jason Bechard says:

    Lets see what else we’ve missed shall we.
    -Missed the “The community will explode after 2010 Olympics” boat
    -Missed the “Businesses will profit from the 2010 Olympics” boat
    -The ship is about to sail on the movie industry using Squamish as a film location due to greed from locals.
    -Missed the ‘Green Energy Windmill Manufacturer’ boat
    -Missed the ‘Federal government chipping in to dredge the channel’ boat
    -Missed the ‘Free land from Mr.Day’ boat
    -Missed the ‘Softwood lumber industry’ boat
    -Missed the ‘Develop the waterfront’ boat

    Are you starting to see a pattern here? Squamish does not want industry nor do they want to take chances developing projects that might bring jobs to Squamish. They just want the status quo and us all to be tree hugging granola eaters.

  2. ted prior says:

    Hay do you think we need to put more resources into economic development ?

  3. Dave says:

    Yes, too much has slipped through Council’s fingers over the years. We are left with a bedroom community which (though I don’t object to it) does need a substantial tax-base boost. We need light, green, industry and there are many examples out there for us to ATTRACT and HOLD. ….this without returning to the polluting heavy stuff. We need to cut out the “red-tape” and get on with it.
    Council members like Susan C. should consider this very carefully ( see other article referring to her resistance to progress in this paper)!

  4. glenne says:

    At a Squamsih service organization meeting held in December, Joan McIntyre
    ( Squamish’s MLA) stated that the North Van ship building has been delayed by the federal government until 2018. Now there’s a story to look into.

  5. heather gee says:

    There seems to be a reluctance to change and for progress. If the municipality relied on the input of residents, perhaps they wouldn’t need to spend thousands upon thousands of taxpayers’ money on professional assessments. Sometimes these studies are done repeatedly, but the recommendations are not budgeted for and not implemented.