Thursday, August 30, 2018

Ridley Expansion, potential sale of Terminal among themes for review by Council members

Representatives from Ridley Terminals outlined their expansion
plans for Prince Rupert City Council on August 20th

The August 20th Prince Rupert City Council session provided for another opportunity for the once delayed overview of the Ridley Terminal Expansion plans, with both President and CEO Marc Dulude and Corporate Affairs officer Michelle Bryant-Gravelle in attendance to update council on the work ahead to develop a second berth at the coal handling facility on Ridley Island.

The Ridley President and CEO, along with Ms. Bryant-Gravelle  offered up a thumbnail guide to the planned expansion project at the industrial site on Ridley Island, work which will include the addition of a second shipping berth southeast of the existing dock at the coal shipping facility.

The main focus of the proposed expansion is to provide for simultaneous loading of two vessels at the Ridley shipment site, as well as to offer RTI the opportunity to diversify its shipment of products to other commodities, though no outline of what those commodities might be was delivered at the August 20th update.

Background notes related to the planned expansion
of shipping facilities at Ridley Terminals

(click to enlarge)

In addition to a presentation on what the new facility will look like and the space it will take up on the Ridley waterfront, Ms. Bryant-Gravelle provided a look at the range of steps required before authorization for the project will be provided.

As for the timeline, consultation through a technical committee with First Nations is underway related to their expansion plans, after that step a decision is expected from the Federal Government by the end of this year or in early 2019.

Public input will be sought out once those steps are complete as part of the evaluation process. Two public Open Houses are planned for October of this year, one for Prince Rupert and one for Port Edward.

Five federal authorities are involved in the overview of the proposed expansion plans, with consultation and technical meetings already underway.

The trail of consultation and engagement that RTI will embark on
as it moves forward with its proposed
second berth at the shipment terminal

(click to enlarge)

The timing of the presentation to council, coming following news that the Federal Government is exploring plans to put Ridley Terminals up for sale also gave the city's elected officials a chance to weigh in with comments for the Ridley representatives on that theme.

In follow up comments, Councillors Thorkelson and Cunningham both expressed their concerns over the fate of the terminal should it change hands and move to the private sector, with both also suggesting one outcome could be the closure of the facility by a rival terminal.

Councillor Niesh inquired if it would go ahead should the Terminal be sold, with Mr. Dulude observing for  council that while those discussions continue, for Ridley it's business as usual and that the need for a second dock is something that Ridley needs to address in order to meet capacity requirements. He also noted how a second dock would assist RTI in its approach towards diversification into the future.

Councillor Cunningham, asked as to what other bulk commodities that Ridley may be looking to ship out of the Terminal facility, however the RTI President did not offer up any indication as to what forms of other commodities may be in the future for the terminal.

Mr. Cunningham also inquired as to how many additional jobs may be created by the expansion.

He was advised that from their current level of employment of 125 employees, an additional twenty five jobs will be created, with a dedication towards gender and origin equity employment to provide for a better representation of the local population.

Mr. Cunningham also complimented RTI for their community involvement, pointing out how Ms. Bryant-Gravelle has a strong presence in the community.

Councillor Randhawa asked for the timeline of the project and when the first ship will dock at the new terminal, he was advised that the hope is to have all ready to go by the first quarter of 2021.

In a follow up, Mr. Randhawa asked about taking advantage of training local residents for positions at the facility, he was advised by Ms. Gravelle-Bryant that RTI has a partnership with both SD52 and Coast Mountain College for training, while Mr. Dulude noted that Ridley was also providing resources towards robotics training in local schools.

Councillor Thorkelson had a number of comments related to the disposal plans both on land and in the water that will be required for the expansion project, she also offered up the strongest of council's concern at the prospect of the Federal Government selling the property.

Offering up her view that Council should take a stand on the potential sale, as they have in the past, noting that they don't really know who will be looking to purchase the terminal and what their plans may be, whether it be to operate the facility or to close it, offering up her concern on the issue, adding that the people of Canada subsidized RTI when it was doing poorly and now that it is on the cusp of moving forward the people of Canada won't get to gain the profits of the facility.

She would like to see the city put some pressure on the federal government to keep the facility owned by Canadian ownership, Mr. Dulude noted once again that for RTI the approach is business as usual and observed as to the consultation process and noted that any comments should be directed towards the Federal Minister.

With Council not quite clear on the timeline ahead for the potential sale of one of the regions' main industrial employers, the suggestion was that they keep in touch with the NDP MP for the region to keep the pressure on the Federal government to keep the industrial site in the hands of the government.

Skeena Bulkley Valley NDP MP Nathan Cullen has already taken the regional lead on the issue, having delivered a number of statements in recent weeks on the federal proposal and once again relaying his strong opposition to the federal government's plans.

You can review the August 20th presentation to Council from the City's Video Archive page starting at the seventeen minute mark.

More items of interest from that session are available from our Council Timeline Feature, as well as our archive of notes from the August 20th Council meeting.

A wider overview of Council Discussion themes can be found on our Council Discussion page.

Further background on developments from Ridley Terminals can be found on our RTI archive page.

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