On March 19, under sunny blue skies, dozens of people involved in the operations of Fairview Terminal gathered to break ground on the expansion.
Among those who participated in the afternoon’s event were executives from Maher Terminals, the Prince Rupert Port Authority and CN along with leadership from the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, Fraser River Pile and Dredge, BEL Contracting, Mayor Lee Brain and MLA Jennifer Rice.
For Maher Terminal executives Mark Schepp and Frans van Riemsdyk, it was a time to not only celebrate but reflect on how far the terminal has come since its inception.
“Here we are in expansion mode seven years later and it is quite extraordinary. You start to take a step back and say that it took a lot of vision and it took a lot of courage, but here we are … I remember in those early days when we had committed to the project and were trying to solicit some customers to come here, all of those presentations started with a geography lesson about Prince Rupert British Columbia and three or four slides about Prince Rupert. Now, you can go to a lot of headquarters for ocean shippers across the world and there is no geography lesson necessary because seven years later we have put ourselves on the map. We have put ourselves on the map because we are a community in terms of the local community, local government, the railway, First Nations and the ILWU all coming together for the benefit of establishing this gateway,” said van Riemsdyk, the executive vice-president of corporate development and strategy who was on the asphalt of Fairview back in 2007 to officially open the terminal.
“There was always that vision, but it was a matter of patience and timing and due diligence. I think the timing is great right now. We always envisioned it but we never put a timeline on it … It’s quite an achievement to see it happen, to be part of the first phase and the second phase and to see the growth and the job opportunities. I can’t say enough about being in a small community and being able to see that come true,” said Schepp, who serves as senior vice-president and general manager for Fairview Terminal and was also on hand in 2007.
Schepp and van Riemsdyk both pointed to the vision of Don Krusel, the support of port partners and the work of the men and women at the terminal as driving the growth and expansion of the terminal.
“CN has already invested in a siding just outside of the gate that will help us increase the velocity of trains arriving and departing from the facility and the ILWU has been incredibly supportive. We have the best production in North America, arguably, and that is from a workforce that had no experience handling containers when we started back in 2007,” said van Riemsdyk.
Also present for the groundbreaking was International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada president Mark Gordienko, who was a worker at Fairview Terminal back in the 1970s.
“It is so great to see it come back to what it once was,” he said, also acknowledging the efforts of Krusel and local union members.
“I can’t say enough about how this has ended up and how much credit Don deserves for this. And I want to thank him for saying such nice things about our members recently. It is the work of our members who have made this operation so successful … there is an awful lot of credit to go around here.”
Van Riemsdyk said the hope is to have the second berth operational by May 2017, with final touches being completed by mid-year.