Monday, October 28, 2019

Port Update in Smithers makes note of prospects for increased train traffic through region

Members of Smithers Town Council heard of some of the plans ahead
for the Port of Prince Rupert and how all communities along the highway
16 corridor benefit from the Pacific Gateway

While Prince Rupert may be the terminal end for the shipment of goods along the Highway 16 corridor, for communities throughout the Northwest, the prospect of increased trade also means an increase for train traffic, something that is often a topic of discussion at City and Town Council's across the region.

A session of Smithers Town Council from earlier this month tackled some of the elements of that  theme as the members of Smithers Council received a presentation from Ken Veldman, the Vice President of Public Relations and Sustainability  for the Prince Rupert Port Authority.

 With the Port official providing for a short update on the upcoming plans for growth at the Port facilities and then taking questions from the civic representatives.

Included among the topics that he explored, a look at the growth of the port since container movements were introduced; as well as the volume of trade that now makes Prince Rupert the third largest volume in trade from all six of the terminals on the Prince Rupert waterfront.

As part of his review, Mr. Veldman noted how the Port has directly, or indirectly resulted in employment of over 6200 jobs in Northern BC., something he observed was found in Smithers with growth of CN Movements and trucking through Bandstra Trucking among the list of economic participants.

He also outlined some of the upcoming plans for the Prince Rupert waterfront,  such as the Vopak terminal and other terminal developments at Ridley Island.

Of note for Smithers, Veldman highlighted how the most important element of the Port's efforts is directed towards engagement with area First Nations and the communities of the region, which he assured the Smithers council members were their most important partners.

He observed how the growth of the port is also directly contributing to economic reconciliation in the Northwest, with Indigenous business leading the way to facilitate port operations in the region.

Noting how the Port is poised to lead the way for  Canada's Asia-Pacific Trade strategy Veldman observed how the communities across the region can share in that vision.

Ken Veldman from the
Port of Prince Rupert
"Quite frankly the Port and Port Growth for communities like Smithers, have been and will continue to be a critical differentiating factor that enable our development. We're committed to maintaining that alignment for our best and common interests, that I think we share.  Global leadership, shared prosperity, sustainable development and quality of life for our neighbours"

The Smithers Council members explored a few themes of particular concern to the Smithers area, included on the list: expectations of double tracking for CN across the region, as well as what can be shipped into Prince  Rupert.

Veldman noted how CN Rail was investing heavily into expanding the capacity of the infrastructure including additional sidings. As for shipments into Prince Rupert, he observed that the bulk of the imports come through the container port destined for Eastern Canada and the Midwest US.

The Smithers members also expressed thoughts on public safety through additional rail traffic and how the Council should approach raising issues of concern.

The Port VP affirmed that they would want to hear from Smithers on those concerns, noting how the railway operates under Transport Canada regulations and how the Port could help put the local government in contact with those they need to be in touch with.

What types of goods may account for the increased amount of shipments was one theme explored.

Mr. Veldman noted that there will be an increase in container movements, whether agricultural, forestry or plastics and other goods, as well, he observed as to how there could be increased shipments of bulk liquids such as LPG. methanol, propane and other fluids.

You can listen in to the eighteen minutes or so of discussion starting at the 22 minute mark of the video posted to Town of Smithers Facebook page of the proceedings below:

The interest of Smithers, like many other communities along the corridor provide an idea as to just how much an impact that the Port of Prince Rupert has on the economic life of the Northwest and beyond.

 For more items of note on Port developments see our archive page here.

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