After just five years of operation, Fairview Terminal is ready to grow.
On Jan. 23 federal Environment Minister Peter Kent approved the environmental assessment of the Phase 2 expansion of the terminal, which would take it from its initial design capacity of 500,00 TEUs to 2 million TEUs. The decision came following months of public comment and a review of the Comprehensive Study Report prepared by the Prince Rupert Port Authority and CN Rail.
“This is a very important announcement and represents a vital next step in our journey toward Phase 2 of Fairview Terminal,” said Prince Rupert Port Authority manager of corporate communication Michael Gurney.
“It is one milestone of many to come… The work of planning and engineering for Phase 2 continues, and the next major milestone will be a decision by Maher Terminals, the commercial operator of the terminal, to proceed with the construction of Phase 2.”
For its part CN said the impact of this announcement goes well beyond the north coast.
“CN is pleased to work with its partner, the Port of Prince Rupert, to advance the growth of one of the fastest growing ports in North America. This terminal expansion is good news for the Port, CN and all Canadians as we continue to fulfill our role as a true supply chain enabler and backbone of the economy,” said CN’s senior manager of public and government affairs Warren Chandler in a statement.
Prince Rupert mayor Jack Mussallem said he was happy to hear about the approval given the economic impact port growth can have on the community.
“It is good for the port and it is good for the City in terms of bringing additional jobs to the community… It’s good news in terms of an overall phased development, and when it is done in a phased manner it is easier for people to adjust and for companies to find workers,” he said, adding that the spinoffs are wide reaching.
“It is not just the employees at the Longshore Hall or at Maher Terminals, it’s the ships coming and going. Last year there were 409 ship visits through the port, and each of those requires pilots and other workers.”
Gurney said there is no set time frame for Phase 2, as the decision is up to Maher Terminals to proceed. Maher Terminals did not immediately return calls for comment, but Gurney did note that the need may not yet exist for expansion despite the terminal exceeding its 500,000 TEU design capacity last year.
“Through operation efficiencies achieved by the design of the terminal and the workforce, the actual capacity of Fairview Terminal is closer to 750,000 TEUs,” he said.
“We do believe that there is the potential for capacity to increase further… Even with the existing footprint, the terminal can handle more than it was designed for.”
Expansion of the terminal will take place in two phases, with the first moving the terminal closer to town. Once complete, Fairview would be able to handle 10 vessels per week and six train movements – three inbound and three outbound – per day. The second phase of expansion would move the terminal further south and accommodate up to 14 vessels per week and 10 train movements per day.
Between the two phases, the project calls for the infilling of 11.1 hectares of marine environment, the construction of additional wharf, container yard and intermodal yard space, the removal and relocation 14 rail tracks within the intermodal yard for a total of approximately 14,000 metres of rail, dredging and at-sea disposal and construction of two rail siding that require infilling above and below the high water mark.
Along with the expansion of the terminal itself, the project calls for the construction of a road linking Public and Fairview to Ridley Island. That would eliminate approximately 1,570 trucks passing through downtown when phase one is operational and up to 2,500 truck movements after phase two is complete.
There were concerns raised over the expansion, including a letter from the City of Prince Rupert that called into question information contained in the Comprehensive Study based on commitments made in the construction of Phase 1. Mussallem said council will be speaking with the Prince Rupert Port Authority and will be keeping aware of any issues that arise whenever construction begins.