Bombardier’s Millhaven facility will see the majority of new hires the company will be making across North America, a company spokesperson said.
“We are looking at 100-plus new roles [mostly new hires] within our footprint in the Americas, but predominantly in Kingston,” Eric Prud’Homme, spokesperson for Bombardier wrote in an email to the Whig-Standard on Wednesday.
He said that the company also made a capital investment in the Millhaven plant — often referred to as Bombardier’s Kingston location — for a dual production line, but did not say how much was invested. Prud’Homme said the new line is an important component of the turnaround plan launched last year.
“Part of the plan was to assess our capacity to ensure we deliver on our commitment. The decision to set up a production line was made as a result of that assessment,” Prud’Homme said, later adding: “Since launching our turnaround plan, we have doubled the rate of deliveries and we have seen in December 2017 our highest monthly shipment of streetcars.
“At the end of the year, we experienced suppliers’ issues and we addressed them and continue to follow up on them. We established dual sourcing on key components.”
Bombardier did not deliver on its commitments last year to the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), for whom they were contracted in 2009 to supply more than 200 streetcars by 2019. They delivered the first car in 2014. Initially in 2017 they planned to deliver 150 cars, then that changed to 70, then 65. By Dec. 31, the TTC only received 63.
Prud’Homme said the company has now supplied the TTC with 66 cars, with another 65 to be delivered in 2018 and 77 in 2019.
The first TTC car to come from the Millhaven facility is expected to roll out in this year’s third quarter.
Prud’Homme said Millhaven was chosen to expand over Thunder Bay because it is already at full capacity. The local expansion will not affect jobs in Thunder Bay, he added. Thunder Bay also has a dual production line.
Bombardier is one of the largest private employers in the area and has a huge impact on Loyalist Township, Mayor Bill Lowry said.
“In our economic development, when we try to promote our area and when we have businesses like Bombardier, like Lafarge, when we have those big corporations that are international, it just adds to the quality of services we provide and the infrastructure we have to provide,” Lowry said.
Lowry said the township hasn’t had any communication from Bombardier in relation to the job expansion.
“We’ll see as times goes on what the actual particulars of the jobs are,” Lowry said. “There’s a lot of engineering that goes on with Bombardier, so I’m sure out of that 100, if 75 are engineers, are they going to come from this area? But even if they don’t, they’re going to have to live in this area.”
Prud’Homme did not have specifics of the jobs or when Brombardier would start accepting applications, but said postings could be made on its website or through third-party agencies.
The Millhaven plant is also constructing rail cars for the Region of Waterloo, the City of Edmonton and Metrolinx (GO Transit and Union Pearson Express). The Waterloo contract is for 14 light rail cars, two of which had been delivered in November. The city’s light rail service is currently in the testing phase and is expecting to open this spring.
The contract with Edmonton, signed last year, is for 26 cars. According to the Edmonton Journal, the first 10 cars are due in 2018, 13 more in 2019 and the final three in 2020. The service is to start operating in December 2020.
The contract with Metrolinx, inked in 2010, is a $770-million agreement for 182 light rail vehicles.
In December 2016, Bombardier completed a major expansion of its rail production facility in Millhaven, spending $11 million to expand its LRV manufacturing space. The facility now has almost 45,000 square feet of construction space, including five construction bays, a new 10-tonne crane, new connections to the CN rail spur and improvements to the two-kilometre-long test track.
Hastings-Lennox and Addington MP Mike Bossio did not return comment in time for publication. In February 2017, the federal government gave Bombardier $372.5 million in repayable contributions over four years.
This article appeared in the February 7, 2018 edition of the Kingston Whig Standard. Story by Steph Crosier.