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New plan for Digby port expansion: dredging, more docks, land creation

Digby Harbour Port Association chair Vance Hazelton and Digby harbour CEO and manager Edwin Chisholm stand in front of the breakwater, which is just one of a series of updates the port has received since it was bought by the association eight years ago. The group are planning an expansion of the port, and will announce their business plan soon.
Digby Harbour Port Association chair Vance Hazelton and Digby harbour CEO and manager Edwin Chisholm stand in front of the breakwater, which is just one of a series of updates the port has received since it was bought by the association eight years ago. The group are planning an expansion of the port, and will announce their business plan soon.

DIGBY, NS - The Digby Port has a new expansion plan, and it involves increasing the port size, the amount of docks, and local tourism.

Digby Harbour Port Association chair Vance Hazelton and Digby harbour CEO and manager Edwin Chisholm are two of the plan’s key players, and say big things are in store for the port.

Plans to expand the current harbour were announced last week, and the announcement of a new 10-year business plan will soon follow.

“There’s been a lot of excitement around our plans for the development of this port, and we’re looking forward to figuring out exactly what we’re going to do,” said Chisholm.

The Digby Harbour Port Association purchased the property in 2009 for approximately $1.2 million as part of a divergence from Transport Canada. Many upgrades have since been made to the property, including:

        ·      a new breakwater to protect the harbour from storms

        ·      floating docks to increase safety

        ·      the electrical system, including a new LED lighting system to save on power

        ·      increase in boat width between docks to accommodate newer, wider vessels

 

Current plans for the expansion of Digby’s port include the wharf. The yellow indicates proposed dredging of the existing floating dock areas, while the pink indicates proposed dredging that would allow for the expansion of the wharf. Additional docks proposed are highlighted by their light green colour, and pre-existing docks are white.

Increase in vessels

These changes may sound fairly simply, but they’ve created a port envied by many, according to both Hazelton and Chisholm. Because of this, the expansion will involve dredging beneath current docks and dredging further out into the harbour for more dock creation.

Boats from five different fishing zones dock at Digby’s wharf, because space is available and because of its amenities. This new docking space is needed, according to Chisholm, because the existing docks were designed to accommodate an average of 77 boats. The docks had up to 118 in one day in 2016. New vessels have also been increasing in width, and present another reason why more space is needed.

Dredging would deepen the harbour and allow access for larger vessels. If the expansion doesn’t have enough money to dredge for and create new docks, they’ll still dredge the existing area.

“We’ve lost an entire metre of depth since the last dredging 50 years ago,” said Hazelton.

“It’s got to happen. Hopefully the rest can happen too.”

 

Increasing the waterfront

Hazelton spoke with excitement as he described more of the group’s plans for expansion.

“We want to literally create land,” he said.

If dredging for the proposed dock expansion occurs, the materials dug out of the harbour would be placed near the breakwater. It’s a nice coincidence that there is exactly enough space for all the dug up materials to fit, said Chisholm.

“This is how we’ll go about creating new land along the waterfront,” he said.

He added that the fishing industry is booming, and said many businesses will be interested in new commercial opportunities presented by this new land.

“Many industries, including the fishery, need access to water,” he said, “and this will give them just that.”

 

The docks need to be expanded for many reasons, including an increase in vessels that dock in Digby and also an increase in their size, as visible in this photo. The older vessel on the right is much narrower than the newer vessel on the left, which is a design many fishermen are using for new boats.

Increase in tourism

Chisholm and Hazelton feel the expansion of the docks and new land creation will also create opportunities for tourism in Digby.

“When not used by fishing vessels, the extra dock space could be used by large yachts and small cruise ships,” said Chisholm.

Hazelton described the economic spinoff that could happen as a result of large vessels docking at Digby Wharf.

“Some of these vessels can reach 140 feet and carry large amounts of people that will eat and explore in different areas around Digby,” he said.

A small cruise ship will be docking May 28, and will stay for 10 hours while its 80 to 100 passengers play golf and explore Digby Town.

Hazelton stressed any land and commercial opportunities created would be community-friendly. The association’s group of stakeholders include fishermen, local business people and other local figures, and represents all interests.

Sources for funding will be announced with the new business plan. As far as business partners, Hazelton and Chisholm say all interested parties have thus far been local.

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