Sunday, September 30, 2012

Vancouver Sun paints a portrait of better times a dawning for North Coast

It's the kind of article that we imagine will find a prominent placement among the various blogs of the local Realtors, destined we're sure to find favour at the Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development and City of Prince Rupert portals.

Gordon Hamilton of the Vancouver Sun provided the prospectus for the future of the North Coast, a future that will provide for prosperity mainly through the efforts of the Port of Prince Rupert.

Vancouver Sun-- Port's growth returns prosperity to Prince Rupert

The article which coincided with the arrival of the largest container vessel yet to call on the Fairview Container Port, outlined the past history of the Port as a resource based bulk shipment point, an era where decline was the buzzword of choice for the Northwest, hostage to the mercurial nature of the forestry and coal industries along Highway 16 and to the North.

The change to the Port of Prince Rupert's arrival as an international shipment terminal of course came in 2007 when the plans of creating a container terminal on the north coast came to fruition and the lobbying to carve out its niche in the world of transportation began.

Five years later, the Port is very much a player in that world, the annual numbers of throughput going up and up and up, the Port now claiming status as the third largest container terminal in the Country.

The Northern View-- Largest container ship yet arrives in Prince Rupert
The Northern View-- Prince Rupert's Fairview Terminal marks fifth anniversary
The Northern View-- Traffic through Prince Rupert's Fairview Terminal up more than 50 per cent

The achievement of the Port of Prince Rupert is something that hasn't escaped the steely gaze of American lobbyists and politicians, who have begun to  look north with a variety of concerns at the volume of traffic going to the US heartland through Prince Rupert.

Such is the success over the last few years that expansion plans are still very much in development with the Phase Two project still anticipated to get underway in 2013.

Beyond the container port, the waterfront it seems is destined to play a larger and larger role in the region's development, from LNG projects to the Pinnacle Pellet Plant to hopeful thoughts that the Watson Island debacle may soon be coming to an end, a shift is clear in place for the local economy.

The city and the northern half of the province for that matter, has a future that now runs through the various facilities of the Port.

Some of Hamilton's thoughts are perhaps overstated, the "building boom" of 11th Avenue isn't quite on the scale of many other communities, and new home construction on the North Coast isn't near the pace of Prince George, let alone anywhere else in the province.

The anecdotal thoughts from the Credit Union of increased savings account balances is also an interesting economic indicator, though after years and years of economic stagnation and decline, any bump up would seem like golden times we imagine.

Still as Mr. Hamilton outlines, there is a sense that a corner has been turned, one hopes that those that read it however do a bit of research before packing up the car and heading north, the region is far from a home of endless job opportunities just yet, those days may be a good number of years down the road.

For a number of local residents who haven't quite benefited from the opportunities thus far, times are still hard, sacrifices have still to be made.

As the Sun's very favourable portrait points out, much of any development in Prince Rupert now comes from the Port, the fates it seems will rise and fall on development plans hatched in countries far removed for our shore.

Whether it be resource based developments from northern Alberta and British Columbia or inbound materials shipped through Fairview destined for the USA, the rejuvenation of the local economy will depend on economic conditions that seem to change by the day in Asia and the USA.

Conditions which most likely will have much to say over how much prosperity eventually comes our way.

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