Monday, June 2, 2014

A share of the LNG rush? City's newly expanded boundary to include proposed LNG site.

With provincial approval in hand on the city's boundary expansion planning of earlier this year, City Council moved quickly to allocate some of that new found City of Prince Rupert property towards industrial development.

The land in question, District Lot 444 was brought inside the City boundary as a way of bringing the city's watershed to within the lines of a map that say City of Prince Rupert.

The process of making that expansion at the time made much comment on the desire to secure the city's supply of drinking water to within its borders, a topic that was highlighted as the City made use of the controversial Alternative Approval Process referendum process.

During that period of time, the city's expansion plans made for relatively little interest or discussion. And during that time, the City never made mention of turning part of that land into an Industrial park of sorts, dedicated it appears to the ambitions of the City to share in the growing lure of the LNG industry.

However, with the land now within the civic boundary, LNG development is now apparently the plan, after City Council revealed some details from a closed session of earlier in the day last Monday.

It was but an eight minute review, one that offered up the blue print of sorts, that would have a portion of that newly expanded boundary to include an industrial zone that would be designed to receive proposals for an LNG terminal facility, with Exxon/Mobil the potential proponent of the Terminal.

As part of the discussion on the proposal, City Manager Robert Long outlined for Council the background on the information that was released from the closed session of Council from May 26th.

You can review the talking points of his full presentation from our City Council Timeline feature, the proposed development of a parcel of land across from Seal Cove for potential LNG development appears at the one hour, eight minute of the timeline.

The main takeaway from his presentation, would be his explanation as to how proposals such as this fit into the "City's economic strategy to find alternative revenue sources and new tax revenues to offset ongoing increases of the operational costs of the city"

Councillor Thorkelson was the only member of council to engage in the short follow up discussion after Mr. Long's presentation, reviewing some items of his information and highlighting the point, that while Exxon/Mobil are best known as Oil companies, in this proposal they would only be proposing an LNG development.

She also  commented on the provision as to how the City would allocate some of any money received from the LNG proponents, towards an environmental officer to watch over air and watershed concerns about that proposal.

All of this newly revealed industrial planning does make for some interesting observations.

In recent months, some Council members have expressed concerns and asked many questions of Pacific Northwest LNG when it comes to their proposed terminal development for Lelu Island. Some of those Council interjections to the debate can be found below:

April 2014
December  2013
May 2013
December 2012

Councillor Thorkelson in particular, has offered up a number of concerns over the environmental impact on salmon stocks and the fishery of the Lelu site. Making known in the past her preference for LNG development to migrate further north of Prince Rupert, a suggestion she first made back in December of 2012.

Since those days of early discussions on the arrival of LNG on the North Coast, Airshed and other environmental concerns have also been of interest to Council when it comes to themes of development for the projects proposed for south of the city, or further north at Grassy Point.

Considering those concerns from the many discussions on LNG around the Council table,  even with potential economic tax benefits from such development, there may be cause for a few raised eyebrows, when it comes to the idea of developing an LNG terminal relatively close to the urban area of the city.

Beyond any issues over the environmental aspects and other concerns that could be raised regarding such a project that would be within sight of the city's east side, there's the prospect of increased traffic through Prince Rupert harbour.

Should the LNG project proposed for an area across from Seal Cove move forward, Prince Rupert residents would eventually see LNG tankers transiting the entire length of the fairly active Prince Rupert harbour.

Travelling from south to north, crossing past the downtown waterfront area and then shifting to the north east towards the proposed site across from Seal Cove and northbound along Tuck Inlet, an area which is also used by the float plane industry in the city. (The route would be reversed upon departure with a full load).

While we imagine that many, if not the majority of those living in the region are hopeful for the LNG boom.  We suspect a good number of residents might be inclined to see the LNG plants and terminal locations, as well as the LNG ships that will be arriving at them, located in regions of the area already earmarked for industrial development.

Locations such as Ridley Island and Lelu Island, or as the other proposals on the drawing board suggest, to the north at Grassy Point.

Considering how much time of late, that Council has had to allocate when it comes to local concerns over the Pinnacle Pellet file. One might imagine the prospect of LNG ships making that transit through the harbour along with a proposed development of an LNG terminal in close proximity to the city's watershed, may soon take up a fair bit of Council's attention should the proposal ever get to a project stage.

The surprise announcement of the City's plans for Lot 444 gives cause to think back to the days of the Alternate Approval Process that brought the watershed lands inside the Municipal Boundary.

One wonders, how if at the time, the City had outlined that industrial development, including an LNG terminal was also part of their plans for that parcel of land, that perhaps the discussion and participation levels at the time of that consultation might have been a bit more robust in the community.

You can review Council's review of the changes planned for Lot 444 from the Video Archive for May 26, Mr. Long's outline and the comments of the Mayor and Councillor Thorkelson take place starting at the one hour, eight minute mark of the video player timeline.

For more items of interest on developments at Prince Rupert City Hall see our Archive page.

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