Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege tonight to rise to talk about a project we would like to see in our riding for a floating dry dock in the Alberni Valley. We have the only deep-sea port on the west coast of Vancouver Island, and we have an incredible company, Canadian Maritime Engineering, that is working in partnership with the City of Port Alberni and first nations and that is well supported in our region. We would like to see it expand and create a floating dry dock to fill the void of floating dry dock space, which is currently under incredible demands and pressures. I was at the Pacific Northwest Regional Economic Conference in 2018. It was cited that $3 billion was needed annually for floating dry dock repair and maintenance, and that capacity was full.
When this project first came forward, BC Ferries provided a letter of support, citing the need for floating dry dock space. Mark Collins, the CEO and president of BC Ferries, visited the port himself. He wrote that letter of support and was pleased to support the application. We know that currently BC Ferries has set out $3.5 billion to $4 billion over the next 12 years in infrastructure for new vessels. It spends about $150 million annually on ship repairs, which is quite significant.
We know this has been a long-standing vision. I approached Transport Canada a few years back to talk about this important opportunity. It cited that there was no current funding mechanism available for floating dry docks, yet we have seen huge amounts of money invested through the national shipbuilding strategy, which is absolutely critical and important in Vancouver, Montreal and Halifax. We have the longest coastline in the world, so it is absolutely essential that we support marine infrastructure throughout our coastal communities, as Norway has done. Mr. Collins cited how Norway went on a robust program of developing its small ports for ship maintenance and repair, and as a result has built more resiliency in these local communities.
Not to take away from those important shipyards, but we have heard Irving Shipbuilding in your home province, Mr. Speaker, citing that it needs $300 million more to fulfill its obligations for the national shipbuilding strategy. I am not saying that I am opposed to it, but I have to say that the frustration is real when we have an opportunity to fill dry dock needs right on Vancouver Island for the Pacific northwest. It may not be for the military, but certainly we could help and offer federal government supports when it comes to maintenance and repair for the Coast Guard. We have an incredibly skilled workforce right in Port Alberni. We have electricians and welders, as well as people who are working outside of the community who could return home. It is the most affordable place in southwestern British Columbia.
Right now the Province of B.C. is embarking on a very important and historic study to look at shipbuilding and to support the shipbuilding sector in British Columbia. The Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation, Ravi Kahlon, said the province is developing a “comprehensive shipbuilding strategy [that] will allow B.C. to take full advantage of...coastal strengths and build a healthier, more sustainable marine economy”.
The Province of B.C. is going to need a federal partner, and I want to know that the federal government is going to be there to provide resources and help solve the problems we have. I am hoping that tonight we are going to hear from the minister that the government is going to be there to work with us, with our communities and with first nations. It is an important step toward reconciliation in the community where I live, and I think there is no better place than the Alberni Valley for this project.