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In a media release from this morning, the Liberal government announced that consultations are underway of a potential sale of Ridley Terminals, with Six First nations in the Prince Rupert area to receive a heads up on the potential divestiture.
The government notes that the open, competitive and fair divestiture of RTI will move forward later this fall.
The Government of Canada is pursuing the sale of Ridley Terminals Inc. to a private sector owner through a competitive sale process. Over the summer, the Government of Canada is engaging with local indigenous groups. These consultations, which are being held in the spirit of reconciliation, are intended to support an open, competitive and fair divestiture of Ridley Terminals Inc. that would be launched later in the fall. The Canada Development Investment Corporation, a federal Crown corporation under the purview of the Minister of Finance, has been mandated to manage the sale process on behalf of the Government of Canada.
In comments related to the announcement of today, Minister of Transport Marc Garneau observed that the approach the government is taking is in the spirit of reconciliation.
With the Minister, perhaps telegraphing that the Ridley Opportunity may be something of interest for local First Nations on the North Coast.
“The Government of Canada recognizes the importance of Ridley Terminals Inc. to the local and regional economies. By consulting early on with Indigenous communities on the future of Ridley, we are reiterating our commitment to advance reconciliation and to renew the relationship between the Crown and Indigenous Peoples in Canada. Ridley Terminals Inc.’s divestiture is expected to support continued high quality terminal operations that are economically sustainable and that maximize value for Canadians.”
While the terminal itself is for sale, the land remains in the hands of the federal government and are managed Prince Rupert Port Authority, which leases the land to RTI.
That situation would not change, regardless of what the status of RTI may be.
You can review the Federal Government's full announcement of today here.
RTI was established in 1983 and has been a key element of the North coast economy since it opened the coal fields of Northern British Columbia to world markets.
Through the years the volatility of the coal industry has had some impact on the levels of shipment for Ridley, with RTI bringing AltaGas to the site in 2016 to develop an LPG terminal on the Island in order to help diversify the terminal's options, with the terminal to enter service in 2019.
The way that RTI approached that diversification made for some comment in a recent Auditor General's Report on the Terminal, a document which was somewhat scathing in its review of some of the processes in place by the Board and Management of the company.
While they were looking for diversification plans, RTI found that a recent bounce back in fortunes for the coal industry has given the terminal cause to seek a second berth, something that they put forward recently at their Annual Public Meeting.
Putting Ridley Terminals up on the Federal Government version of Kijiji is not a new thing, though the path towards any potential sale has been somewhat of a meandering one over the decades past.
November 23 2015 -- Ridley Terminal sale prospects remain stalled, with no indication from Federal government as to path ahead
November 2014 -- From Federal Government point of view; No change in mandate to sell Ridley Terminals
September 2014 -- Ridley privatization process still active concern, but seemingly moving slowly
Back in 2012, the Conservative government of Stephen Harper had put the Terminal up for sale, but that process bogged down and the ownership remained in Federal hands.
In 2009, a name familiar to Prince Rupert residents was at the centre of the discussion on a potential sale of RTI, with Dan Veniez then Chairman of RTI making headlines as the topic once again popped up on the North Coast radar.
Though shortly after that storm blew in, Mr. Veniez himself blew out, removed by the Government. Veniez however would return to the conversation in 2011, continuing to offer his thoughts on the topic and stirring the pot on privatization.
The idea of selling the terminal to private interests actually goes back further than 2012, with the Liberals trying to sell the terminal earlier this century, it was the Harper government that ended those plans back in February of 2006.
The prospect of a Ridley Sale has been a hot button topic over the years, and each time that that the prospect of a sale was brought up local politicians were quick to weigh in.
Some push back to previous plans was often heard from Skeena Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen who frequently took the Northwest point to that theme.
Former North Coast MLA, Gary Coons was also often found keeping a watchful eye on RTI during his time in the legislature, as he did here in 2012.
Prince Rupert city council provided another forum to weigh in on the prospect of a Ridley Sale from time to time, with Councillor Thorkelson leading the charge last in 2013.
So far, all municipal, provincial and federal representatives have not offered any comment on today's announcement.
You can review some of our past notes on events at Ridley Terminals from our archive page here.
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