Thursday, October 6, 2016

Continued growth and opportunity seen for Port facilities in Prince Rupert

More growth ahead was the message
for the BC Finance committee from
the Prince Rupert Port Authority

(photo from PRPA )
Monday's Port of Prince Rupert presentation to the BC Finance Committee provided a glimpse of the future for Port facilities on the North coast for committee members, as the Port's Ken Veldman brought the visiting panel of MLA's up to date on current projects and prospects for the future.

The opening few minutes were given over to a review to some background on the status of the Port, noting its mission as an independent organization mandated by the Federal government to be a steward of Federal Crown lands and oversee safe shipping, supporting the national trade agenda and working in a commercially self sufficient manner.

Towards those goals Mr. Veldman outlined some of the components of the Port of Prince Rupert and the range of commodities and goods that are shipped through the various terminals on the Prince Rupert waterfront.

In addition to the overview of the export and import picture, the Port also provided a glimpse at the financial impact and employment levels that  that communities across Northern BC receive through the shipment of goods in and out of Prince Rupert.

Prince Rupert Port terminal opportunities
continue to grow as the port expands

(map from PRPA)
As for the footprint in place on the North Coast, a review of the current terminal operations was provided for the committee, as well as a look at the potential of LNG terminal development, break bulk opportunities, the progress of the proposed propane terminal at Ridley Island and the prospect of further expansion of the container Terminal at Fairview.

On the path ahead for the Port, the forward direction for growth has the Port of Prince Rupert looking to pass the Port of Montreal over the next ten years as more capacity and terminal operations are introduced to the Pacific Gateway.

"To put Prince Rupert into a national perspective, by most measures we are currently the third-largest port in the nation. That surprises a lot of people, given the size of this community. We expect to pass Montreal within the next decade and move into the No. 2 spot in total tonnage, container traffic and the value of trade moving through this port."

Environmental issues and the approach the Port takes to address them also provided for some of the focus on the ten minute presentation, as did the Port's growing relationship with area First Nations.

On the theme of that engagement with North Coast First Nations, Mr. Veldman outlined the importance that the port puts on reaching agreements and shared benefit opportunities as development prospects continue.

"In particular, local First Nations play a critical role in participating in major developments within their traditional territories. I think we all know this, but it's important to remember that there's also an acknowledgment within local Tsimshian First Nations that their economic future is well aligned with the future success of the gateway. 

We have a track record in Prince Rupert of reaching agreements and sharing benefits and have successfully executed on economic opportunities with Tsimshian First Nations, including employment growth, over $100 million in contract agreements and an increasing engagement in the ongoing management of gateway businesses."

When it comes for Provincial participation in the growing trade opportunities with Asia also made for the Port's presentation of Monday. With the Port identifying three key areas for consideration of Provincial officials.

The first featured a desire for Integrated Gateway planning, taking on a coordinated approach to ports and trade from Federal, provincial, municipalities and the Port authority.

The second called for continued leadership in the development of trade corridors for the BC economy through strategic  common-user infrastructure investment. Looking beyond normal infrastructure concerns, the Port also noted that it was seeking partnerships and initiatives to advance marine safety, environmental stewardship, competitive tax policies and regulatory frameworks.

The third and final of the key items from the Port asked that the provincial government recognize the challenge that many northern communities face as they deal with growth issues related to the Prince Rupert gateway.

The Port also expanded on some of the struggles that municipalities across Northern BC face when it comes to securing economic fundamentals to provide for local stability.

"There is a critical role for the provincial government to play. Generally speaking, sound fiscal fundamentals will provide the economic stability that is crucial for competitiveness. But more specifically, coordinated gateway development and planning, strategic gateway infrastructure investments and strategic community capacity investments are going to be important. The seeds of success are sown here. A strong alignment of interests between the provincial government, the port and the many partners in the gateway will ensure its fruition."

Committee members followed up the presentation with a number of questions for the Port representative, inquiring into the nature of any cooperation that they may have with the Port of Vancouver and how much, if any value added opportunities are being created to take advantage of the Port's gateway to the world.

Mr. Veldman noted that when it comes to the potential of more value added components for products, the small local population of the region limited much of the prospects for value added opportunities at the moment.

Though he did note that as the Port grows and with more growth for the region's population, there would be an ability to develop warehousing  and logistical options, which could lead to those value added opportunities finding a place as part of regional industry for the future.

You can examine the full transcript from the housing presentation at Monday's Committee session from the Legislature Archive website, that portal also features an audio link for those interested in the proceedings to listen to to hear the full range of testimony from the consultation.

For an overview of Monday's session see our blog item from yesterday here, an archive of all our features on the Committee consultation at the North Coast Convention Centre can be found here.

More background on the some of the projects that Port is working on at the moment and more on the issues that they have identified through the years can be found on our Port archive page.

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