Saturday, April 7, 2012

40 years and growing strong

It now is the undisputed engine of the Northwest and Northern BC economy, the shipment point to the Asian markets and the Gateway to Middle America, the Port of Prince Rupert has come a long way in its 40 years and perhaps is if not there, now very close to that ancient vision of Charles M. Hays.

The Port of Prince Rupert celebrated its fortieth anniversary in March, featuring a look back to its past, but more importantly looking with enthusiasm towards its future.

In a local economy that has suffered many hits over the last few decades, from the death of the pulp and sawmill industry to the serious decline of the fishery, the Port of Prince Rupert has provided for the majority of the positive economic news of that same period.

The introduction and proposed growth of container services, to the growing expanse of Ridley Island with both coal and grain facilities has provided the spine for the local economy in the transition period from old industrial development and the new horizons ahead.

Northern View-- Traffic through Prince Rupert's Fairview Terminal almost doubles in first quarter
Northern View-- Ridley Terminals provides update on expansion progress
Northern View-- Ridley Terminals signs agreement for more coal from Coalspur
Northern View-- RTI chair, MP say potential sales plans 'speculative'

The prospect of perhaps a potash terminal and continue talk of an LNG facility for the north coast are but two of the percolating developments for the region.

The tourism sector gets a reboot this year as the Port retrenches it's cruise ship strategy, with hopes of rebuilding the local brand moving forward from the disappointment of recent cruise line withdrawals.

Northern View-- With first ship arriving May 4, the Prince Rupert cruise task force is seeking volunteers
Northern View-- New position looks at improving cruise in Prince Rupert

The process for all facets of port development at times seems glacial for many, the bounty of jobs not quite delivered yet, the expansions and vision for the future still to move forward, yet for the city, the region and the northern half of the province, the Port of Prince Rupert is the key building block for economic development across the Highway 16 corridor.

The celebration of the Ports progress was reviewed from a variety of local media, their accounts of the Port at 40 can be found below.

The Northern View-- Prince Rupert Port Authority CEO reflects on PRPA's 40th anniversary
CFTK-- Rupert Port Forty (video)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Province seeks to improve trade through infrastructure

British Columbia Premier Christy Clark made mention of Prince Rupert a few times on Monday as part of her 25 billion dollar review of transportation plans for the province.

For the most part, the shout outs to Prince Rupert were actually recycled news, the 100 million dollars allocated to the Prince Rupert Rail Utility corridor and expansion plans for the coal terminal at Ridley Island long ago made public, but reinforced on Monday to highlight the BC Liberals transportation plans.

So while, no actual new funding was announced for the Prince Rupert industrial base, her comments did serve to re-enforce the importance of the Port of Prince Rupert to the province's long term economic plans.

Other items of note from her Monday press conference outlined plans for a metal and mineral terminal for somewhere in Northwest British Columbia, no specific home port was announced for that project, as well as 2.8 billion in investment for rail by both CN and CP rail.

As well, commitments to increase container terminal projects at Deltaport and the increase of potash terminal capacity could impact on Prince Rupert's economic plans as well.

Rupertites of course are still awaiting word from Potash Corporation about any development plans for a potash terminal for the North Coast, a much discussed project over the last few years that hasn't really move forward very far as of yet.

The chief rival for Prince Rupert's potash aspirations is North Vancouver's Neptune Bulk Terminal, which played host to the Premier for her Monday announcement, a terminal which has seen significant expansion over the last year of its handling capabilities.

It will be with interest that North coast residents watch developments in North Vancouver, and wonder what impact that expansion may have on their hopes of a potash terminal of their own.

Victoria Times Colonist-- Same old new transportation strategy

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Ain't nobody here but us chickens...

City Council has been asked to weigh in on the topic of household chickens, a project that should make for interesting times down on Third Avenue.

The chicken coop proposal seems to have received its genesis from the newly formed Transition Prince Rupert group, a collective that seeks a more sustainable Prince Rupert.

Still in their formative stages, the group most recently made headlines thanks to one of their directors appearance at the Northern Gateway hearings, as well as through their involvement with Earth Hour.

The chicken plan was introduced to council by Samantha Lewis, a second year science student at NWCC, who presented her proposal as a way to make Prince Rupert a more sustainable community.

Council has put the proposal on the table of city staff, having them seek out further information on the project by contacting other municipalities in the province to find out about any challenges that chicken hosting may provide.

Staff will report back to council with their findings before any further action is taken on the topic.

CFTK-- Rupert Council Hens (video)
CFTK-- Prince Rupert resident Wanting Bylaw Amendment

Prince Rupert trends middle of the pack in Earth Hour involvement

The annual day dedicated to energy conservation came and went on March 31st and as far as participation goes, Prince Rupert was around the middle of the pack go BC communities to turn off their lights for an hour.

Earth Hour which is the creation of the World Wildlife Fund and is supported provincially by BC Hydro, first took place in 2007 and since that time grew from its humble roots of an Australian based initiative, with Toronto signing on in 2008 the idea soon spread across the globe.

The 2012 event across the Province of British Columbians saved 121 megawatt hours of electricity, reducing the provinces electricity load by 1.67 per cent. Which BC Hydro says works out to the equivalent of turning off 9 million 12.5 watt light bulbs of the LED variety.

Revelstoke was the community most in tune with conservation this year, with a 12.1 percent reduction in energy usage, Prince Rupert's totals were 4.1% while the energy hogs of Fort St. James reduced their energy consumption by only 0.2%

The Northern View-- Rupertites come out to celebrate Earth Hour on the waterfront
Vancouver Province-- Revelstoke leads B. C. in power conservation during Earth Hour
Global BC-- B. C. communities conserve 1.6 per cent of energy during Earth Hour 2012

Monday, April 2, 2012

CityWest dispute delayed?

CityWest operations were supposed to be behind a picket line on Monday morning, as the labour dispute between CityWest workers and management came to a stalemate and the  the Prince Rupert based communications company was served with 72 hour strike notice on Friday.

However, labour trouble was deferred for the moment, after Industry Minister Lisa (Step into a dispute) Raitt, weighed into the situation to send both sides to the Industrial Relations Board.

Minister Raitt, who has been in the news quite a bit over more high profile disputes, offered up her take on the CityWest situation by outlining how the public safety was at risk if CityWest workers took to the picket lines on Monday.

CityWest was quick to take that advisory to the public, through their website (a forum not particularly well used by the City owned company in the past) the thrust of their review of the latest developments was that perhaps IBEW Local 337 might want to get back to the bargaining table.

The topic of wages, pensions and changes to the internal workings of the company all seem to be the major items on the labour/management checklist, topics which seem to show little common ground at the moment.

Should the labour difficulties eventually morph into a strike, then CityWest often a frequent discussion topic around the city, will certainly become the number one discussion point at coffee break and dinner tables over the next few weeks.

As the labour strife percolates, service issues, cost of operation and even the concept that the city shouldn't perhaps be in the business of telecommunication and television services at all, could be up for discussion well beyond the negotiating table.

The prospect of the labour dispute and the impact it may have on the Northwest was outlined through a number of media providers over the last few days, some of their work can be found below.

The Northern View-- CityWest union responds to company and relations board
The Northern View-- CityWest workers can't go on strike
The Northern View-- CityWest addresses negotiations with the IBEW workers
CFTK-TV-- CityWest strike stalled over essential services