Social and economic impact of the Esquimalt Graving Dock

The Esquimalt Graving Dock plays a large role in bringing economic prosperity to the Greater Victoria region of British Columbia. Meet the people who benefit from and contribute to the social and economic impacts of the dock.

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East end dock extension project

Watch this video to see the work that was done at the Esquimalt Graving Dock to expand the east end of the dock and increase service capacity. The project was completed in May 2023. This video was taken by the construction manager, Pomerleau Inc.

Transcript of the video: East end dock extension project

Start of video

Music starts

(Text on screen: Public Services and Procurement Canada)

(Text on screen: Expansion of Graving Dock, Esquimalt B.C—Footage provided by Pomerleau Inc.)

[Throughout the video, images are shown in a time lapse format through the changing stages of the project.]

[A shot of the Esquimalt Graving Dock in British Columbia.]

[A shot of the east end dock with neon blue lines detailing the structural walls, with construction machines and workers working away.]

[A shot of the expansion area closer to the mural with working diggers.]

[A shot of the expansion area from the other side with working diggers.]

[A shot of the east end graving dock after the original wall was removed for the expansion.]

[A shot of the extension zooming downwards.]

[A shot of one side of the wall from the expansion with camera zooming upwards. Bare retaining walls are shown with workers on top of scaffoldings.]

[A shot of the east end graving dock with the expansion in place. Construction vehicles and workers are moving. The sun sets.]

(Text on screen: Check us out:,,,

(Public Services and Procurement Canada signature)

[Music stops]

(Canada Wordmark)

End of video

Mayor shares how the dock has benefited the community

Barbara Desjardins, Mayor of the Township of Esquimalt, talks about how the federal investment in the dock has provided economic benefits to the township of Esquimalt, British Columbia.

Transcript of the video: Esquimalt Graving Dock: Benefits to the community

Start of clip.

(Barbara Desjardins is standing inside an office with a television playing in the background.)

(Off-screen narrator asks question.)

Can you tell us about the socioeconomic role that the Esquimalt Graving Dock (EGD) plays in local and regional community here?

(The text: Barbara Desjardins, Mayor, Township of Esquimalt appears in the lower portion of the screen.)

(Barbara Desjardins answers the question.)

The Graving Dock is a wonderful asset for this region. Locally in Esquimalt, it is huge. The property and all of the work that goes on down there is fantastic for the community with respect to jobs, good-paying jobs.

The shipbuilding strategy that is ongoing has secured that Graving Dock as a place for steady employment. It is now attracting people from all over the province to come down and want to work in our area.

I talk about the fact that there is now confidence. The federal funding announcements that have just recently occurred, as well as the ones that have occurred over the last four years has secured the Graving Dock as a place where steady work will occur for years to come. It has recovered the shipbuilding and ship repair industry in our community, but also around the island for the future, and because of that, it has improved economic stability in my community.

Census which just came out has shown that we are the fastest-growing community in the region. Much of that is related to the economic development that has and is occurring at dockyard.

(Off-screen narrator asks question.)

Can you give us some feedback that you’ve received from your residents?

(Barbara Desjardins responds.)

Our residents are always recognizing the importance of the federal properties. We can’t go anywhere in Esquimalt without bumping into federal property; the Graving Dock or Department of National Defence. And our community is very proud of those connections, so when you speak about the Graving Dock to somebody, we’re the first community that’ll turn around and say, “And that’s in Esquimalt. We’re proud to have that facility here.” And we recognize that it’s a gem not only for us, but for the lower island, for the island, for B.C., for Canada.

(The Government of Canada Wordmark appears on a black screen.)

End of clip.

Director talks about the uniqueness of the dock

Stafford Bingham, Director of the Esquimalt Graving Dock, discusses how multiple companies from different industries work side-by-side on the dock. At times, nearly 3,000 people are working on cruise ships at the dock.

Transcript of the video: Esquimalt Graving Dock: Industries

Start of clip.

(Stafford Bingham is standing outside on the dock wearing a high-visibility vest.)

(Off-screen narrator asks question)

Why is the Esquimalt graving dock so unique?

(The text: Stafford Bingham, Director, Esquimalt Graving Dock appears in the lower portion of the screen.)

Well, it's a unique facility because it's the only major shipyard in North America that's owned by the government but other users can come in and repair ships in our facility. So like today, for example, the ship behind us is being worked on by the Esquimalt Dry Dock Company, and the ship at the other end of the dock is being worked on by Victoria Shipyards. So you have two separate private sector companies working together side by side in a government-owned facility. And that's very unique.

This government has decided that it's a strategic asset. And they've decided to capitalize it and invest in it to benefit the ship repair and ship building industry on the west coast and provide jobs for middle class Canadians.

Well, there's 54 people that work for Public Services and Procurement Canada in the facility itself, and there can be anywhere up to 1,500 to 3,000 employees working on the ships when the cruise ships and stuff are here. So it varies up and down. The private sector brings in workers as they need them, but our group is fairly stable at around 50 people.

The shipyard employs all kinds of trades. There's welders and pipefitters and ship fitters and all the mechanical trades and painters. And our guys are crane operators, pump house operators, electricians, and of course our admin staff and a yard stuff. So just about every gamut of industrial trades are represented here at the dock.

The capital projects, as you know, that were announced is $250 million, and all of that is staying in the local area with local consultants and local construction companies.

The economic impact to the province with the activity from the ship repair companies and their salaries and their work is about $200 million every year.

(The Government of Canada Wordmark appears on a black screen.)

End of clip.

Director shares the rich history of the dock

Stafford Bingham, Director of the Esquimalt Graving Dock, teaches us about the dock’s history, which began in 1920. Get introduced to photos of the dock’s first ships and the original gauge panel that was installed.

Transcript of the video: Esquimalt Graving Dock: History

Start of clip.

(Stafford Bingham is standing inside a building point to different historical photos and items.)

(The text: Stafford Bingham, Director, Esquimalt Graving Dock appears in the lower portion of the screen.)

So I'll just show you a little bit of the past history of the Esquimalt graving dock here. This, for instance, is the old gage panel that was installed originally in 1920. And it , we've since replaced this with all new electronic controls, but this was the original set-up where it would show you tide levels and water levels and pump velocities and flows and stuff. We have some of the old historical photographs here from days gone by. The Empress of Canada in the dock. And this was the very first ship, the Regina Light, that was docked in 1926. And you can see just off to the right of the Regina Light the two buildings that are there, and that's the pump house that we're standing in today.

So this picture was the HMS Cormorant that docked in the dry dock across the harbour in the CFB Esquimalt in June of 1867 or 1887. That was the first ship that docked over there. That's the Queen Mary getting converted into a troop ship during the war. This is a model of our old hammerhead crane that used to be here and has now been since replaced with a big, new, 35-ton Koneycrane. And some interesting old signs that were around the dock in the 1920s.

(The Government of Canada Wordmark appears on a black screen.)

End of clip.

Artist shares dock’s mural

Thomas Kendall, a British Columbia artist, shares his mural representing local communities and history, and explains what inspired him to create it.

Transcript of the video: Esquimalt Graving Dock: The mural

Start of clip.

(Thomas Kendal is standing in front of mural at the Esquimalt Graving dock.)

(Text: Thomas Kendal, BC Artist appears on the lower portion of the screen.)

Hi. I'm Tom Kendall. I'm the artist who painted the mural you see behind you, along with the help of a bunch of students and some design input from Butch Dick of the Songhees First Nation.

(Off-screen narrator asks questions.)

You're the artist of this beautiful mural at the Esquimalt graving dock. Could you tell us what inspired you to do this project?

(Tom Kendall answers the question while the camera pans across the different aspects of the mural.)

Well, the first part of the project happened back in 2004, I believe, when they built the retaining wall here. And they gave me a call, they saw another work I'd done and gave me a call, asked me if I'd be interested in painting something there. And when I looked at the wall, this one up here suggested a sort of a Roman aqueduct, I think, and so I wanted to do a trompe-l'oeil picture on it, and that's the presentation I made. And we included local history. There's a ship in the painting that you can see, and it was a ship that we saw in an early photograph that was taken before the graving dock was built in the twenties. The ship was out in the harbour in the picture they took, and I blew it up and we got the ship identified and included it in the mural.

This was the panel that Butch Dick designed, but they wanted some First Nations content in it because they'd found bones when they did the excavation.

And of course when they do that, they get an archaeologist involved. And so they determined that these were remains of the ancestors of the Songhees First Nation and also the Esquimalt First Nation. And so when they do that, they get them involved. And they wanted to have some content in the mural that paid tribute to that history.

And they wanted to showcase some of the nature, because—and you'll see various animals and flowers and things, and all of the wildlife—all the fauna and flora in the painting are taken directly from photos that were taken on the site here. There's a big Garry oak meadow up there, so we included some Garry oak.

(Off-screen narrator ask question.)

As a BC artist, what did this mural and this project mean to you personally?

(Tom Kendall answers question.)

Well, it was a large project for me. I'd done smaller murals at various places, and quite a bit of interior mural work. But this one was pretty big fun.

(The Government of Canada Wordmark appears on a black screen.)

End of clip.

Training and education for industry

Alex Rueben, Executive Director of the Industrial Marine Training and Applied Research Centre (now the Camosun Coastal Centre), explains how the new training and research centre has impacted the community and industry.

Transcript of the video: Esquimalt Graving Dock: Training and research centre

Start of clip.

(Alex Rueben is standing outside of the Industrial Marine Training and Applied Research Centre [IMTARC] talking during the clip still pictures of the facilities, students and staff appears on screen throughout.)

(Text: Alex Rueben, Executive Director, IMTARC appears in the lower portion of the screen.)

The Industrial Marine Training and Applied Research Centre was an idea that the shipbuilding and repair industry in British Columbia had already since about 2006. And we were looking for an opportunity to build that centre, and that opportunity came along with the National Shipbuilding and Procurement Strategy announcement in October of the 2011, where Seaspan won the contract for non-combat ships.

At that point, we were able to get some federal funding from Western Economic Diversification and from industry to build this 4,000-square-foot facility here on Songhees land, right next to the Esquimalt Graving Dock.

And the idea was really to co-locate training and education with the industry and to provide efficient, cost-effective training to the industry to allow it to grow and thrive.

The kind of courses that we do here are, range anywhere from half a day to five days in length, and they’re targeted courses at what the industry needs, everything from project management to hard technical skills to soft skills like leadership and interpersonal communications and conflict management. And those are things that the industry needs. We do a lot of safety and environmental awareness training here.

And I’d like to touch really on our indigenous training because one of the strategic recognitions that we have about the indigenous participants in our industry is that they’re co-located with most of the shipbuilding and ship repair facilities in B.C. And they also do not tend to go away to work. They tend to stay with their communities, and so that is why we’re really looking at their participation in our industry.

The other is that they’re the age group in 18 to 24 are several times that of the normal cross-section of the population. And so those are the young entrants that we really would like to see in our industry, and that’s why we spend a lot of time working with the communities to introduce them and then employ them in our industry.

(The Government of Canada Wordmark appears on a black screen.)

End of clip.

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