MPs from the parliamentary finance committee were in Prince Rupert late last month to gather input for the next federal budget from a handful of representatives from northern BC.
Talking to the committee from Prince Rupert was the CEO of the Prince Rupert Port Authority, Don Krusel, and Louisa Sanchez who was representing First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition. They were also joined by representatives from the Mining Association of Canada and the Clean Energy Association of British Columbia.
The purpose of the meeting was to gather input and ideas that could be used in the Conservative government’s next federal budget. Meetings like this have been scheduled in communities all over Canada and Prince Rupert was stop number 20.
The Port Authority CEO told MPs that the federal government’s decision to invest over a billion dollars to help build the Fairview Container Terminal was a wise one that has paid off for the community and for the country. Krusel cited the fact that the port has seen its traffic grow year after year since it open for business.
“Today the Port of Prince Rupert serves as the North American gateway of the northwest transportation corridor. This corridor extends to central Canada and also on to Chicago and beyond to Memphis and New Orleans. It connects the populations and industry of central North America to the rapidly growing Asian economies,” says Krusel.
With the port planning to increase its capacity to 100-million tonnes in the next few years, Krusel told MP’s that the Federal Government should continue to spend money on the Prince Rupert Port and other kinds of infrastructure that support trade through the Asia Pacific Gateway with the rapidly rising economies just across the pacific. Failure to do so would be a missed opportunity for Canada’s economic future said Krusel.
“Without the continued expansion of port infrastructure, Canada’s resources and products will be shut out of international markets. It would be like building a grand mansion with many rooms, but with no front door to gain access to its rooms,” says Krusel.
With such a large increase in ship traffic from northern BC, New Democratic MP, Alain Giguère, wondered if the Prince Rupert Port would be prepared for a tanker or another kind of ship sinking off the North Coast. Krusel said that despite all the concern about a catastrophe from oil tankers, the danger is being exaggerated.