The port of Corner Brook took another hit this week when the shipping firm Oceanex made a financial decision to withdraw from its marine shipping business.
The St. John’s-based company had already stopped using the city as a port of call for its container ships but had continued to use shore facilities on the waterfront while shipping containers by road from the capital.
Now all of that will cease to be used, staff will be laid off and Oceanex will serve its customers directly.
The company will continue to hold onto the port facilties, which it controls under lease.
Company CEO Capt. Sid Hynes says he can’t compete with Marine Atlantic, which is a federal Crown corporation and is subsidized by the federal government.
But that isn’t a new development and shouldn’t come as any surprise to the straight-talking Oceanex skipper.
What may be happening here is that business owners in this part of the island aren’t getting the kind of service they want from Oceanex and are looking for other methods of bringing goods to their loading docks.
Maybe having cargo come across the Gulf and trucked along the west coast is more convenient than having it shipped all the way to St. John’s by container ship, only to have it dragged 700 kilometres or more back across the island to customers.
Oceanex has quit using the port facilities, but now has it tied up with a lease, which means no other shipper can be sought by the port corporation to fill the void.
Nobody would expect Hynes and his firm to lose money moving goods to the west coast, but maybe some other shipper could make a go of it.
It’s just not prudent or productive to have these facilities sitting idle and rusting away through lack of use.
*** This editorial was written before the Corner Brook Port Corporation released information saying the port would not be tied up in a 35-year lease. It was printed the following day, without changes acknowledging the release of that lease information. ***