Martin C. Barry
In a bid to ensure the Canadian Coast Guard has the equipment it needs to keep Canadian seafarers and waterways safe, the federal government has announced it will be paying a Laval-based steel engineering firm more than $12 million to build 184 four-season lighted navigation buoys to be deployed in St. Lawrence River navigation channels between Quebec City and Montreal.
A network of buoys
Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau was joined by Laval-area Liberal MPs Eva Nassif and Angelo Iacono as well as officials from the Coast Guard at the engineering facilities of Canam-Ponts in Laval’s industrial park on Oct. 5.
The new modernized buoys will become part of the Coast Guard’s network of over 17,000 aids to navigation located across the country, including light houses and beacons, helping to maintain what the federal government says is one of the safest navigation systems in the world.
Less maintenance needed
The four-season buoys are considered to be unique, designed using Canadian Coast Guard expertise to withstand the severe ice and tidal conditions found in the St. Lawrence shipping channel. They will remain in the water year-round and only require maintenance every two to four years.
The four-season buoys will replace the seasonal navigation aids operated by the Coast Guard that are currently deployed each summer and winter. The reduction in servicing and maintenance required for the new buoys will allow the Coast Guard to achieve operational efficiencies. The contract with Canam-Ponts includes options by the government to acquire up to 204 additional four-season lighted navigation buoys.
Supporting the Coast Guard
“This investment in new and modern equipment for the Canadian Coast Guard is an example of our government’s commitment to ensuring the safe transport of people and goods on our waterways, while providing opportunities for businesses in Quebec,” said Garneau.
“Our government is ensuring economic growth in Quebec and all over Canada,” Nassif added. “This investment is another example of our commitment in creating good middle class jobs, and I’m happy my constituents in Vimy and in Laval will directly benefit from this project.”
Company growing in Laval
Marcel Dutil, president of Canam Group Inc. said the buoys fit in with the company’s plans for the future in Laval. “It is a new range of products for Canam-Ponts, and it is making sense in terms of our development and operational diversification plan,” he said.
“This contract fits within the long-term vision we have for the Laval firm, which has been making metal components for more than 57 years. Our employees are among the most specialized in the industry. This project is a beautiful challenge for us.”
Alfred-Pellan MP Angelo Iacono noted the local economic benefits that are resulting from the project. “It’s creating jobs,” he said. “I’m hearing it’s going to create two shifts, with more than 15 jobs per shift. So this is very positive news.
Revisiting Canada’s ports
“It also falls exactly into line with something I am currently working on with the committee for transport and infrastructure,” he continued. “We’re doing a big study on the ports of Canada. With an increase in trade that’s coming around, we realize that we need to take another look at our ports and this is part of it.”
The first delivery of the four-season lighted navigational buoys is expected by late October this year to the Canadian Coast Guard bases in the cities of Québec and Sorel.
Two buoy models
Two navigation buoy model sizes have been designed and will be built to be deployed in various locations of the St. Lawrence shipping channel, based on different operating water depth conditions. The larger buoy model measures 9.5 meters in length, a hull diameter of 1.3 meters, weighs 4,000 kilograms and will operate in water depth conditions of 9 to 30 meters.
The smaller buoy model measures 8.7 meters in length, a hull diameter of 0.7 meters, weighs 2,100 kilograms and will operate in water depth conditions of 9 to 25 meters. The St. Lawrence River shipping channel provides passage to over 6,000 commercial vessels annually. Over 38 million tonnes of cargo, valued at $10 billion (CAD), was moved along the St. Lawrence Seaway in 2017.