Prince Rupert Port Authority Vice-president of Operations Gary Paulson was busy last week providing information and soliciting feedback on the PRPA’s 2020 Land Use Plan, with three meetings over two days on a plan that could put Prince Rupert near the top of the list when it comes to goods coming into and going out of the country.
“In 2020 what this plan envisages is 50 million tonnes moving through Prince Rupert. That would put us as the number two port in the country behind Vancouver but right up there with Montreal and blowing Halifax right out of the water,” he told Port Edward council on Tuesday night after outlining plans for more bulk and liquid bulk terminals on Ridley Island, a possible vehicle import terminal and phase II of Fairview Terminal.
“All of the high value goods will be looking for the fastest, most efficient, most reliable gateway, and that is what we offer.”
On the subject of phase II, Paulson said people shouldn’t be surprised to see the container terminal expanding with another berth closer to town before expanding south toward Ridley Island.
“These decisions will all be commercially driven. You can see that the expansion to the north and the creation of another berth would be significantly less expensive than expansion to the south,” he told the Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday afternoon, noting that those plans don’t necessarily require the acquisition of the JS MacMillan property.
“You can bet expansion to the north would be happening before expansion to the south because it is cheaper to do….I expect to hear some good things about Fairview Terminal in the near future,” he told Port Edward council.
And as these developments continue, Paulson said people should not expect to be able to continue to access Ridley Island and the beach areas on it.
“We wouldn’t be honest if we said that we would be able to continue that…The challenge for Ridley Island is that people get very comfortable accessing it, but every six months or so I get a call from RTI or the grain saying people are on their property. Once construction starts out there, it becomes a safety concern,” he said, noting that there are plans that could make up for the lost recreational opportunities.
“A [crossing] to Lelu Island is something we’ve heard about from the community and at an executive level, and maybe that is the answer and compensation for restricting access to Ridley Island.”
As part of the 2020 Land Use Plan, work is already underway to see what would be needed to allow shipping vessels to access the side of Ridley Island facing Port Edward.
“We are doing a study with respect to the entrance to Porpoise Harbour and possible dredging to allow bigger ships to access it. Right now it is limited to ships that are 187 metres, and we have consultants working to see what would have to happen to allow 220 metre ships that could enable automobile shipping,” he explained.
The draft 2020 Land Use Plan is available on the web at rupertport.com, and the plan is to take feedback through the summer before seeking board approval in September.