It would be tough to argue that 2013 wasn’t another positive year on the North Coast, but it would also be tough to argue that the region has turned the corner completely into economic prosperity.
Make no mistake, Prince Rupert and Port Edward jumped firmly into the national spotlight as liquefied natural gas developments and energy export took centre stage. As the calendar turned to 2014, the list of potential projects include the BG Group terminal on Ridley Island, the Pacific NorthWest LNG terminal on Lelu Island, Aurora LNG at Grassy Point and Triton LNG’s floating terminal near either Prince Rupert or Kitimat.
Two of the companies — the BG Group and Pacific NorthWest LNG — are spending a lot of money and establishing a real presence in the community and have partnered with major pipeline companies Spectra Energy and TransCanada to plan for billion-dollar projects of their own.
Add to that the opening of Westview Terminal, the beginning of construction on the Ridley Island Rail, Road and Utility Corridor, preliminary plans for an oil export terminal on Ridley Island, an oil refinery at Grassy Point, and the settling of the Watson Island court case and the groundwork is certainly laid for the big boom that was expected with the opening of Fairview Terminal back in 2007.
It is a far cry from what was happening in town back in 2006 when the newspaper launched and an even further cry from the post-pulp mill closure days.
But the key word in all of this, with few exceptions, is potential and potential doesn’t pay the bills. What Prince Rupert and the North Coast needs now to really cement the economic boom is certainty in the form of investment decisions. Some of those decisions will likely come this year and bring a bigger boom than imagined.
We may not have completely turned the corner just yet, but we’re far enough around it we can see the straight path to prosperity ahead.