Vancouver residents with a view of the harbour were treated to a strange sight this April when the heavy lift vessel "Development Way" headed out with a load of scrap vessels strapped across its deck. The cargo included two self-loading/unloading log barges the "Straits Logger" and the "Haida Brave" and 8 tug boats. All part of a spring cleaning project for Seaspan as it gets its dockyards in shape to make room for the big shipbuilding work set to begin for the federal government.
What it really signifies is the end of an era and, one that few of Vancouver's citizens give much thought to these days. These massive barges, built in the 1960's & 70's, were used to transport millions of logs, harvested by various logging camps up and down the coast, and to deposit them outside the sawmills and pulp mills where they were then processed. Thousands of people were employed in a multitude of direct and indirect jobs related to the forest industry, and it formed the backbone of the British Columbia economy.
Now of course the forests are almost all gone, as are the logging camps, sawmills, and everything that goes with it, and the workhorse boats of the west coast are heading for China to be put to other uses, or dumped into an industrial version of the glue factory. Such is the nature of change. Still it's hard to believe that such a dominant industry of the Province has practically disappeared in such a short time.
But it hasn't only been one way traffic for these heavy lift ships. In return for all the scrap going to China, other heavy lift vessels like the Zhen Hua have been steadily delivering Chinese built gantry cranes to handle the ever increasing business of loading and unloading container ships. Container ships that are carrying predominantly Chinese made goods. This is the new economy for Vancouver, a transshipment port where containers to and from Asia get off-loaded to and from railways and trucks that transport them throughout North America.
|Exxon Mobil refinery in Singapore
|Burnaby Chevron refinery
|Kinder Morgan pipeline
|photo by Arlen Redekop