Prince Rupert is beginning to hear back from its July letter-writing campaign where it asked various business chains to consider setting up shop in the community and that is adding to Mayor Jack Mussallem’s optimism for the future.
“We are getting some responses to the Prince Rupert and Port Edward Economic Development Corporation initiative to encourage business development in the retail sector in the community that would complement existing retail businesses here,” the Mayor said Thursday.
The initiative, he added, has generated some awareness.
While he wouldn’t divulge any particular company names, the Mayor suggested there have been inquiries and various entities looking around Prince Rupert for appropriate store space.
Individual property owners that have retail space available, have also contacted the PREDC, and requested that the information about their store spaces be posted on the corporation’s website retail space inventory list.
Back in the fall, when PREDC officer Derek Baker first developed the inventory list, only some building owners responded. Now that list is growing.
“We’ve had more since then and it’s been good because it’s having a positive effect. People are once again looking at Prince Rupert. They are recognizing the growth and development that Prince Rupert is experiencing,” the Mayor said.
Eager to share statistics, he reiterated that earlier this year the City learned from the provincial government that Prince Rupert’s population had increased by 996 people in 2010.
“Of course the longshoremen have told me they used to have 80 people working out of their hall, they now have 300. There are 58 people a day going to work at Watson Island and stuffing containers. We know that Kristoff Trucking has 21 drivers working for them and the new Scallop Hatchery is growing their brood stock and has about 12 people working there. We’re also aware there are 12 people that will have jobs down at the CN rail yard where they’re also stuffing lumber in containers.”
Ridley Terminals has also been hiring and is now expanding, he added.
The City has also had discussions with parties interested in further use of Watson Island, whether it’s through use of the dock to ship logs or lumber, or handling of wood waste and fish offal to create a fertilizer.
While the City is involved in legal battles over its attempts to sell the former pulp mill site, with both Sun Wave, the former owner, and the First Nations community of Kitkatla, the Mayor said he is feeling optimistic the City will be able to sell the property and have it back on the City’s tax roll.
“What I can tell you is that the provincial government is taking all the information into consideration, and hopefully as a result of that work, the City will be able to move forward,” he said.