Mayor Lee Brain is releasing details of the city’s LNG Go Plan, a consolidated plan to ensure Prince Rupert is ready to meet the projected boom that would come with the liquefied natural gas industry.
Brain said the idea for the plan came after talking to various LNG proponents looking to locate on the North Coast.
“I felt that there needed to be a coordinated effort because a lot of these proponents need the same thing to happen for them to be able to work here, particularly our airport. We also have a dump that needs a new cell to handle the industrial waste and one of the requirements for Exxon, for example, is that we get our dam upgraded and the waterlines on the Shawatlan side fixed up before they go ahead … between the airport, the dump, our waterlines and the dam and a few other things, we’re still working out what those are going to be, we want everyone to be looking at one central plan,” he said.
“Prince Rupert could be a model for how to host a rapid growth situation. Once there is a final investment decision you have about a year to ramp up and in that year we could have all of those ducks in a row. We could be a community other places call to ask how we did it.”
The first phase of the plan, said Brain, is a complete revisioning for how people access the airport from the time they buy their ticket until the time they depart or arrive downtown. Engineering work is already underway to look at different options.
“We’re already looking at new ferries, new ramps, new ramp locations and different ways of accessing the airport. We also need to do a master plan for the airport because some of the proponents may need helicopter pads or hangers. This is a major operation if LNG goes through. Our situation just isn’t prepared for that,” he said.
“The proponents are getting excited about this because they know we need to do it and each has been talking to us individually about our airport.”
Outside of needed infrastructure improvements, Brain said one of the aspects of the Go Plan will include is the potential to finally make the Tsimshian Access Project a reality.
“Now that three LNG facilities — Exxon, Woodside and Nexen — all need road access, we’re thinking of the Tsimshian Access Project that has been on the table for the past 20 years. Now would be a good time for that to occur. It would look something like a bridge from Prince Rupert to Lot 444 with a road connecting to Lax Kw’alaams, a road from Lax Kw’alaams to Metlakatla and a bridge from Metlakatla to Digby,” he said.
“That would connect the airport to Prince Rupert, connect the First Nations communities to Prince Rupert and connect the three proponents to Prince Rupert, which would save them a lot when it comes to barging.”
But the plan includes more than infrastructure for industry. Brain said housing will play a big role in preparing for LNG. Discussions have already taken place with social services groups, two housing committees have been formed and the city has hired a statistician to create a survey that will outline what the need is.
“We want to be able to measure how many assisted living housing units we need and if we need another homeless shelter with how many units. We have a number of lots we own and could put up for sale at below market rate to create incentives for affordable housing developments,” he said.
Brain said a draft of the plan will be completed shortly, with a final report planned for July 1.
“The intention is to coordinate the region, not just the City of Prince Rupert, and to dream big and reach further than before,” he said, noting industry is ready to come forward with money to support needed items in the plan.