The union representing Seaspan's tugboat workers has commenced strike action, prohibiting members from accepting work on all 30 of the company's tugs operating in B.C. (Seaspan photo)

Vancouver Island’s only farm feed mill relieved tugboat strike settled

Duncan’s Top Shelf Feeds relied on Seaspan barge to provide food security to Vancouver Island farmers

The strike at Seaspan Marine, which had gone on for more than seven weeks, finally ended on Oct. 16 and pressures it caused on Vancouver Island’s food supply are expected to end soon.

The strike at Seaspan impacted barge services that many local companies, including Duncan-based Top Shelf Feeds, depend on to provide their supplies.

Dennis Comeau is the general manager of Top Shelf, which specializes in farm, livestock, and pet supplies and operates the last commercial feed mill on the Island in Duncan.

He said that during the strike, which had seen rail service via barge to the Wellcox yard in Nanaimo halted, the company had been forced to truck all its raw grain from Alberta and the Lower Mainland at twice the freight costs compared to rail.


Comeau said the many challenges to the industry, like the strike, can be pretty tough to deal with sometimes, and few people are aware of the difficulties they create.

“No one seems to notice that we are here,” Comeau said.

“No disrespect, but a lot of people still seem to think that groceries are made in the back room of the grocery store. There has been lots of action since the media voiced our concerns. We are hoping to keep the ball rolling and educate people and government how important our farms are on the island. Now that the Seaspan strike is over, service to the Island will resume for us early next week.”

Top Shelf services approximately 141 commercial-scale farms on the Island with bulk-feed deliveries, and also supplies its four retail stores that are located from Langford to Powell River.

The company currently hauls canola meal, soya meal, corn, wheat, barley, peas, corn distillers, beet pulp, dehydrated alfalfa pellets and a few other commodities to its mill for processing finished feeds.

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Dennis Comeau, general manager of Duncan-based Top Shelf Feeds, is pleased the Seaspan strike is over. (Submitted photo)

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