Currently the predominant method of transportation for most businesses is via freight through BC Ferries. While this method is working for the short term, the communities and businesses on Haida Gwaii do not feel it is adequate in the long term. The Village of Port Clements recognises that its community needs to invest in a barge loading/offloading and storage facility to support the forestry sector and other industries with modern infrastructure and cost effective access to shipping including shipment via container. This project was first considered in 1997 when local businesses were polled for their support, and results of the poll found that the community was strongly in favour of investment in a modern barge facility in Port Clements. Unfortunately the funding needed for the project was not available at that time, and further work was required to assess the economic feasibility of a potential barge facility as well as pre-engineering to determine the capital cost of the required infrastructure.
Recently, the Village of Port Clements secured over $14,000 from Northern Development's Feasibility Studies funding program to undertake a comprehensive business case analysis and market assessment of the barge loading/offloading and storage facility infrastructure project. The key areas the project will focus on include: identifying operational requirements, estimating the capital requirements to construct the facilities; projecting the demand for the facility including current and future demands, timing, volume, and type; assess the facility's unique fit within the context of existing facilities on and around Haida Gwaii, assessing various operational models that exist for barge facilities and determine which model would be most ideal in Port Clements; and, assessing the potential for increases in economic development within existing and potential Haida Gwaii businesses by having direct shipping options on the island via container transport.