Here we go again.
That was my thought when I got word that Ridley Terminals COO George Dorsey told a conference in Florida that the government was looking to sell Ridley Terminals. It’s certainly not the first time the idea has come up, the last time being in 2009, but hopefully it will be the last time the idea comes up.
Looking back into the archives, the idea last came up in 2009 when there were bids for the purchase of the facility received. The result, though, was the departure of RTI chair Dan Veniez who had been pushing for the terminal to run in a more commercial manner. While the terminal wasn’t sold, management was given the green light to operate Ridley Terminals in a commercial manner, and the results have so far been quite outstanding. There are a number of long-term contracts signed for a significant amount of volume.
When the idea of selling RTI came up a few years ago, response was swift. The mayors of Prince Rupert and Port Edward voiced their opposition, as did mayors from northeastern BC communities like Chetwynd and Tumbler Ridge. Gary Coons and Nathan Cullen weighed in, and the whole idea generally went over like a lead balloon. It was quickly and summarily dismissed.
Now I understand that the Government of Canada is going to review their assets and make sure taxpayers are getting bang for their buck, and the reality of Ridley Terminals has changed so much in the past few years it’s crazy – from a money losing entity to one that is funding a massive expansion from operating revenues. But at this point in time it makes no sense to examine the sale of Ridley Terminals, and with demand for coal growing to the extent that current chair Bud Smith mentions a possible expansion to accommodate 60 million tonnes, I don’t see where it makes sense in the future.
While a review of assets from the government makes sense, the frequency with which this comes up doesn’t. A decision was made three years ago – stick with it especially in the current economic reality.
Saying what may happen only creates uncertainty, and that is never a good thing.