Prince Rupert should get ready for what is to come

Last year was one to remember for the Prince Rupert Port Authority (see the story on Page 9) and it doesn’t look like this year is going to be any less exciting here on the north coast.

This year port authority president and CEO Don Krusel expects to see shovels in the ground on the Ridley Island Road, Rail and Utility corridor and, most likely, phase II of Fairview Terminal. Add to that continued work on the Pinnacle Renewable Energy terminal on the waterfront and the likely start of demolition out at Watson Island and there is a lot of jobs coming our way. That is not taking into account possible work on the Canpotex Terminal, which has already been approved, and workers needed should either of the two LNG terminals get the green light.

It all adds up to a major influx of people in the next five years – we’re not talking hundreds of people we’re talking thousands of people. In all likelihood the Prince Rupert of 2023 will be a lot different than the Prince Rupert of 2013 as the community becomes an even more prominent gateway to Asian markets.

And while that is great for the local economy and retailers, the City of Prince Rupert needs to get to work to prepare for the change that is coming. Thousands of new people means a drain on already stretched resources and asking more of aging infrastructure like water and sewer.

About five years ago, just before the opening of Fairview Terminal, the city manager of Fort St. John and the city manager of Grande Prairie were in town to talk about the challenges municipalities face with a sudden spike in population. Some of the things they brought up are not necessarily self-evident in terms of social issues, crime and housing. Perhaps a refresher would be in order, as only two of the current councillors were sitting at the time.

And since at least one of the projects, Progress Energy’s LNG export terminal, is proposing a camp environment, having Port Edward and Prince Rupert officials sit down and talk with Kitimat council could also be beneficial. Through family in Kitimat and reading our sister paper, the Kitimat Northern Sentinel, it doesn’t seem all is running smoothly in Kitimat and there are certainly lessons that could be learned from the experience of Kitimat council.

Growth is a great thing for the community, it brings in new revenue to the City and more money to the businesses, but the community as a whole should be doing all it can to prepare for what is to come.

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