In Brief: When Melford International Terminals announced plans to begin construction this summer of a new container port in Guysborough County, CBC Radio turned to AIMS acting president Charles Cirtwill for comment. He explained there is room for a second container terminal, as long as it is 100% privately funded.

A new container port planned for Guysborough County in northeastern Nova Scotia is set to start construction in the summer, says the company behind the project.

The business leaders behind the deal say the thousands of acres needed to build the East Coast gateway container terminal have been acquired, and international financiers have raised millions in cash from private investors.

Former Nova Scotia cabinet minister Ritchie Mann, who is vice-president of marketing for Melford International Terminals Inc., said they have raised enough money to get the private-sector project through planning and development, and ready for the construction phase.

“Our preliminary round of fundraising was mostly Toronto and New York money. Now, Cyrus Capital has come in with $10.5 million in our second round. Cyrus, of course, has offices in London, England, New York and Connecticut,” Mann said this week.

They plan to build the terminal at the ice-free port in Melford, located near the Strait of Canso. They’re targeting cargo being shipped to and from Asian markets through the Suez Canal, which they say could be transported by rail from Melford to other locations in North America.

Site ideal for terminal: Guysborough County warden Guysborough County Warden Lloyd Hines said the site is ideal because it is undeveloped, which means roads, rail spurs and freight-handling facilities can be built anywhere officials of the port want.

“The assembly of land, from a municipal perspective, has occurred. The property that was identified in the Milford land reserve has been optioned, so the land acquisition is complete,” Hines said.

Company leaders will be meeting in the community in February, he said, to explain how the private-sector project is expected to proceed. The port construction is scheduled to be finished by 2011.

The Melford location is slightly closer than the Port of Halifax to shipping lanes from Europe, and is an ideal location to act as a transfer point for goods from Asia, the company has said.

Right now, the Port of Halifax is the only seaport on the East Coast deep enough to accommodate fully laden post-Panamax vessels — those too big to pass through the Panama Canal. It describes itself as “Canada’s Atlantic Gateway to the world.”

Room for another port: think-tank

Charles Cirtwill, of the think-tank the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, has done extensive research on ports and transportation.

He said the idea of building a new container terminal in Nova Scotia is great as long at they don’t come looking for taxpayers’ money to prop them up.

“Philosophically, if it’s their money, it’s their risk, and we don’t have a problem with it. The real worry we have is, what happens if the private sector investors have misguessed the business case, or misguessed the international market, and they end up in a situation where things aren’t going well,” Cirtwill said.

But, he said, if port developers do things right, there should be enough new business for another major container port as developing countries increase shipments of freight to North America.

The Port of Sydney unveiled a master plan in January to set up a container terminal, if funds can be raised to build it.