Prince Rupert might have one of the most expensive piles of dirt in the province.
The three hectares added to Fairview terminal to allow for two container ships to dock and unload is costing DP World $200-million.
Project manager, Terry Stewart, for FRPD-BEL Gateway Joint Venture, regaled the public with the enormity of the phase two port expansion since it began in March 2015.
The intricate details of the work being done to extend the port and prop it up from 360 metre to 765 metres, in order to add four large ship loading cranes, has hovered under the radar.
“When I look around town it seems to me that this project is a bit of a sleeper project,” Stewart said.
The work is 40 per cent complete with the goal of completion by June 2017. The most visible development is where a chunk of the earth has been excavated from the side of a hill and relocated to the new section of the terminal where the ocean used to be.
“Everybody is hyped over LNG. This is real. There are hundreds of jobs here. From what I understand, DP World takes people in the door and they train them right here in town. You don’t have to go somewhere else for your education and you can stay here with that job. That’s a huge good news story that is tough to get out,” he said.
Those jobs will come once the project to increase the terminal’s capacity by 500,000 containers per year is complete. The construction work happening now is temporary but it has still contributed to the economy on the North Coast.
The project is a joint venture between two B.C. construction companies, Fraser River Pile and Dredge to deal with the marine scope and BEL Contracting to manage the work on land.
“These two partners still don’t do everything themselves. They subcontract because there are certain things that specialists are better at and in particular local specialists,” Stewart said.
Up to this point, the project has injected $15-million in the local economy. Stewart said that by the time they finish the work $39-million will be spent locally. Between 35 and 45 per cent of labourers are hired from the region. A total of $150 million will be spent in the province by the end of the project.
The expansion may also be considered a “sleeper project” due to the lack of noise complaints. There has been at least 150 blasts in the area, and Stewart said that while he’s been on site he might have only heard three or four.
The specialists doing the blasting usually work in urban areas where they have to avoid disrupting nearby buildings and traffic. Also, the rock that is being blasted crumbles easily, and the blasts that were done were “small and muted”.
Another point Stewart mentioned to the environmentalists in the room is that the project is using bubble curtain technology to avoid harm to the marine life. What they do is lay a hose on the seabed and pump air in it so the bubbles come to the surface and the fish stay away from the area.
“You’ll have to ask the fish why they do that but its a great technology. So we’re able to work in the water and not harm fish, which is important.”
The informational event had a full crowd at the Port Interpretive Centre. Michael Gurney, the manager of corporate communications at the Port of Prince Rupert said, “The level of public enthusiasm in Prince Rupert for port development is one of the gateway’s most important strengths.”
“Residents here have a stake in the port’s growth — whether through direct employment or the general benefits of trade. With initiatives like the Trade Talks series, our aim is to provide insight into an industry that so many are already interested in.”