Whenever major media reports on Pacific NorthWest LNG, they always report it as being “near Prince Rupert”.
The fact is that outside of the Northwest, and admittedly for some within the region, Port Edward is not necessarily on the radar. But, as outlined last week, that is likely to change in the near future.
A positive announcement from the company will not just kickstart a boom for the North Coast the likes of which has never been seen before – considering the boom being driven by the modernization underway in Kitimat requires 2,500 fewer workers than would be needed for construction on Lelu Island – but would be a fundamental shift for Port Edward.
If you had said even five years ago that the community would see plans for a new subdivision, another 300-plus trailers and a hotel/restaurant/shopping centre complex, there certainly would have been some who thought you were crazy. Somehow I don’t doubt that those on council at the time would have been included among those thinking such an idea was being extremely optimistic.
And yet those plans are now a reality, being driven in part by a bypass road (who would have thought!) that opens up an entire new land base for future development.
While the pending expansion and population boom in Port Edward is exciting news for all involved, one can’t help but wonder just what that would mean for the City of Prince Rupert.
Let’s face it, if the people of Port Edward are going to go shopping and swimming or if they need to fly or if they need medical treatment or if they require RCMP assistance, they’re not going to get it from the District of Port Edward.
The city pays for the upkeep of recreation facilities, subsidizes the airport ferry, pays per-officer for RCMP and maintains road infrastructure to access all amenities. And given the current financial status of the city, it can’t pay for these key pieces of infrastructure by itself.
Along with money from the province, something more substantial than has been offered in the past, regional leaders need to come together to plan for a future that is brighter than any may have imagined.