Thursday, June 23, 2022

Prince Rupert Port Authority APM highlights a challenging year of 2021, with evolving plans for the future

The Prince Rupert Port Authority outlined the challenges of
2020-21 and some of the plans for the year ahead as part of 
their Annual Public Meeting last week

For those who could not attend the June 15th Annual Public Meeting for the Prince Rupert Port Authority, an opportunity to hear many of the themes from the annual update on port activities is now available for review through the PRPA website.

This years event marked the first opportunity to gather in a large group since 2019 and the Port made the most of their chance to explore the challenges and opportunities that the last year has provided for the Prince Rupert Gateway.

Hosted by Monika Coté, Director of Public Affairs for the PRPA, as it has in the past, the evening was divided into four elements of review of 2021. 

The opening a presentation from the Board Chair Frans Tjallingii, he noted of the growing footprint of port facilities and the spin off impact that those projects are having in the community as well. 

Of note for the Board Chair was the progress on the Ridley Island Connector road which will reduce the volume of trucks travelling on city streets. 

As well, the process of building relationships with area First Nations was also noted as a key element of the Port's growth.

The Board Chair also paid tribute to the work of the team assembled at the Port for their efforts under some challenging circumstances.

"I would like to take a moment to recognize Shaun Stevenson, PRPA's President and CEO and the entire PRPA team for all of the work that was done over the last years in sometimes difficult circumstances. Their commitment and strength as a team was integral in navigating the challenges.

Port  President and CEO Shaun Stevenson was ill on the night of the event, with Vice-President Ken Veldman stepping in to chart the specifics of the year that was for the Port.

Much of the material relayed at the APM stayed close to the recently released Annual Public Report, a document now available online through the Port website.

Mr. Veldman also paid tribute to the work of those at the Port and their partners across the region, which he referenced as Team Prince Rupert.

"I would like to extend on Frans' comments and start my remarks with the recognition of the commitment, the energy, quite frankly the talent exhibited by the entire PRPA team and certainly that starts with Shaun's leadership but extends through every element  of our organization.

But just as importantly, extending recognition to the dedicated people in the terminals, the facilities the transportation/logistic services that make up the Gateway. Team Prince Rupert as we refer to them as we work together to grow the port.

And that team work was especially important over the past year. 

2020-2021 will be remembered as a year of unprecedented uncertainty and challenge to the Prince Rupert Port Authority, its staff, stakeholders, the transportation sector, supply chain and quite frankly the world at large"

Some of the key notes from Mr. Veldman on the evening

25 million tonnes moved through the Prince Rupert Gateway  making for a decrease of seven million tonnes in cargo volumes from a year ago

Increases for the volume of Liquid Petroleum Gas shipments at both AltaGas and Pembina terminals

Westview Wood Pellet Terminal had a strong year with over 1.4 million tonnes shipped in the last year

A slight decline for DP World's Fairview Terminal with 1.05 million TEU's shipped in the last year, the decline attributed to intermodal supply chain disruptions, industry specific issues and a competitive west coast market.

Shipments of coal were down significantly, with the Ridley Terminals now known as Trigon terminal realizing a decline as a result of a loss of a core customer. 

That was described as a signifcant concern for the PRPA, with Mr. Veldman observing how the Port will work with Trigon to seek efficiencies and diversification opportunities to reduce the impact of the transition of the steel industry.

A poor crop year resulted in another year of declines for Prince Rupert Grain which saw just over 3.5 million tonnes shipped out of Prince Rupert in the last year.

The Cruise industry suffered from the pandemic in 2021 with no port calls, though the Port VP noted of the work the Port has done with cruise industry stakeholders both in the region and internationally and the promise of a bounce back for the industry as seen in recent weeks in Prince Rupert.

Mr. Veldman also offered a snapshot towards the focus for the period ahead as part of his remarks, offering a positive view coming out of a challenging period.

"So despite this uncharacteristic 23 percent decrease in year over year total volume, the Port of Prince Rupert played a vital role in assuring the movement of essential goods on North America's west coast and provided important economic stability for the region through a tumultuous year. 

With optimistic market forecasts and new capacity coming on stream in 2022, the Prince Rupert gateway has every reason to feel confident about its performance in the coming years."

The drop in cargo volumes also had an impact on the Balance sheets at the PRPA offices.

The Port VP making note of declines in revenues with 2021 delivering 64 million dollars in revenues and a net income of 26 million dollars.

The relationship between cargo volumes and financial performance made for a brief overview for the port official who outlined how the Port viewed the results of 2021.

"Our financial performance is tied intrinsically to the volume of trade that moves through the port, as volumes go up or down so does our financial performance. Our financial success ensures that PRPA will continue to have the financial strength necessary to invest in the critical gateway infrastructure that will be required to have a sustainable future for the Port of Prince Rupert"

Diversification of Port facilities also made for some of the focus for the commentary on the night and how that quest will continue to build the Port and advance its plans for future.

"Our purpose as an organization is to build a better Canada and by extension better communities by growing trade. That starts with not only growing our capacity as a Port, but also a focus on diversification of our capabilities. 

Diversification of our trade base ensures that we build the capabilities that can support Canada's growing and ever evolving trade agenda. Locally diversification means that we can support and economy and employment base that is resilient against the ups and downs and industry and economic cycles"

Among some of the current expansion items of note Mr. Veldoman outlined a list of familiar projects from recent Annual Public Meetings of the last few years, there were however, no new initiatives noted as part of the June 15th gathering.

The anticipated completion of the Fairview-Ridley Island Connector Corridor for July which will add a road connection to take truck traffic off the streets of Prince Rupert and add to rail infrastructure for the Port

The DP World Fairview Container expansion plans continue forward, the project anticipated to bring new capacity online, with the facility to offer up capacity for 3.5.million TEU's

The Wolverine Marine Fuel Terminal continues to move forward

The same is so for the VOPAK Pacific Canada Liquid bulk Facility which is still in the development phase

The Ridley Island Logistic project is still in the planning stage to help maximize capacity and expand on the opportunities available as part of the Prince Rupert Gateway

That is the same focus for the South Kaien Import Logistics project a partenership with the Metlakatla Development Corporation, it will provide vital services to improve the  efficiencies for the global supply chain.

The review also explored themes of Safety, with some of the new measures in place at the Port as well as look at the events of November 24th, 2021 and a wind event which saw the Port and its partners put in action their emergency plan to address the situation of a container vessel adrift.

From that incident the Port has also implemented additional measures and reviewed the situation further towards addressing any future safety concerns.

Mr. Veldman also outlined the scope of support that the Port has offered to visiting mariners, including their partnership with Northern Health towards those mariners who called on the port in the last two years. 

Environmental themes and Community Investment Funding made for the final stages of the Vice-Presidents review of the year 2021 and a look at the plans for the future.

To the Community Investment theme, the project which is now in its twelfth year has seen 95 completed projects since its inception.

The growing relationship with area First Nations was also a key element of the presentation, the Port Vice President noting of the partnerships that the Port has with communities and the scope of employment provided to members of local First nations.

"Most importantly we recognize, that local First Nations are more than just stakeholders, we are incredibly proud of the fact that thirty eight percent of the local work force in the port industry is Indigenous, thirty eight percent which is higher than the participation rate of Indigenous people within the local labour force. 

An incredible success story and that recognition goes out to all the port employers here within our community.

We continue to seek new economic, environmental and community partnerships with Indigenous leaders and organizations. 

PRPA is committed to upholding the themes of the United Nations Declaration of Indigenous People and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada's call to action number 92. 

Local First Nations are our viral partners and we will continue to work to have their interests entrenched in our business" -- Ken Veldma, VP Public Affairs and Sustainability Prince Rupert Port Authority

VP of Finance and Corporate Services Joe Rector delivered
his 22nd and final Financial Review, the VP is set to retire
this year from the PRPA

Joe Rektor the VP for Finance, who will be retiring from the Port this year, expanded on some of the financial notes from Mr. Veldman's presentation, calling on his lengthy period of service with the Port over the years, to note of some of the changes from his first report of 2000 and comparing those findings to the current status for the Port facilities. 

One  of which saw the Port announcing a loss of a 15 million dollar write off of Fairview Terminal in 2000 as part of its pre container era. The observation one which highlighted how despite the challenging years for the Port in 2020-21, the current situation was significantly different than that which was facing the PRPA just over two decades ago.

Of note for municipal officials on the North coast was the listing of a 98 percent increase in payments in lieu of taxes for 2021.

How the Port compares to its Canadian competition both in tonnage and earnings provided a look at how the PRPA continues to have strong performance results.

The final portion of the APM last week was turned over to comments and questions submitted prior to the event or from the audience.

Those viewing the near forty minute presentation will note that the video record of the event ends rather abruptly as the VP of Finance and Corporate Services was wrapping up his review for the year. 

The Port advising that some technical issues left the remainder of the session including the Question and Answer segment missing from the video capture.

The elements of the Annual Public Meeting presentation which was captured as well as the documentation from the Annual Public Report is available for viewing here.

A look at some of the themes of the year from the PRPA can be explored through our archive page.

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