The long-rumoured Phase II expansion of Fairview Terminal could be coming sooner rather than later.
“I think one can anticipate some type of very positive announcement some time in the first quarter of 2015,” said Prince Rupert Port Authority president and CEO Don Krusel in a year-end interview with the Northern View.
“It’s inevitable, you just have to look at the numbers.”
Fairview Terminal has seen growth every year since it opened in 2007, pushing the terminal close to capacity.
“There is room, but it’s getting tight. We don’t know what the ultimate capacity is, but the terminal operator thinks it is north of 750,000 TEUs so we still have well over 100,000 TEUs of capacity. But it does demonstrate that expansion is necessary,” said Krusel.
“As a port community, we can’t sustain this kind of growth without expansion moving forward. We have had the road, rail, utility corridor and I can see for the next 18 months having the Fairview container terminal expansion moving forward.”
Following a year that saw overall tonnage through the Port of Prince Rupert decline, driven by a drop in coal that offset record years at both Fairview Terminal and Prince Rupert Grain, Krusel said there are a number of possibilities on the horizon that could make 2015 another year to remember.
“We would see an expansion of Fairview container terminal being initiated, it would be nice to see a final investment decision by one of the LNG facilities moving forward and the new project cargo facility is now basically completed, though not fully commissioned, and we expect to see volume moving through it starting in the first quarter of 2015. That will be another form of diversification. We would also see continued growth in container traffic through Fairview and, depending on the crop year, we hope to see Prince Rupert Grain continue to show growth,” he said, noting the year will not be without challenges.
“I think the challenges will continue to be with coal and the price of oil and its impact on the global and Canadian economies, which could have an impact on various initiatives in Prince Rupert and other commodity prices. We have to watch international markets to see how that unfolds … the Chinese economy is slowing and moving from 14 per cent to 16 per cent growth to seven per cent. That is still growth, but it is slowing and that is bringing down the demand for commodities which was driving much of our growth. We don’t know what that is going to mean for us.”
In the long-term, Krusel said some of the goals of the port authority include increasing waterfront access and securing land to further develop the Prince Rupert gateway.
“One of the common comments we hear is that as the port expands, there is concerns in the community that access to the waterfront is being taken away. We recognize that is a concern and it is a very important objective to address that concern … we are working hard to make Prince Rupert a waterfront access-focused community and we will be focusing our efforts and investments in ensuring the public does have access to the waterfront,” he said.
“We’re continuing to work with the provincial government to see if we can unlock some provincial crown lands for the expansion for intermodal activity and a logistics park. That has been a major initiative and will continue to be one; the need for the Prince Rupert gateway to expand into logistics services is quite high and that requires land. It is something that we need to work with some of our government stakeholders to unlock.”