If you don’t think a positive final investment decision by Pacific NorthWest LNG at the end of the year will change the face of Prince Rupert forever, you need to give your head a shake.
The message of Roger Harris was one that social service providers, businesses and local governments would be fools to ignore or doubt. The message, quite simply, was if you wait for an announcement to begin preparing for the changes it will bring than it is already too late.
The proof Prince Rupert needs, and the proof Harris pointed to, rests with our neighbours in Kitimat and Terrace. Like Prince Rupert, both communities have struggled economically for the better part of a decade. But both are now booming to the extent that it is difficult to keep up. Housing prices are skyrocketing, tenants are being renovated from their apartments, rents for basement suites and apartments are simply unattainable for many, small business employees are jumping ship to the greener pastures of industry-related business and new employees for growing businesses are all but impossible to find.
Another consideration: Hotel rooms are almost impossible to find in both communities, something having an impact on sporting tournaments. Imagine the impact to Prince Rupert, host of the BC Annual Dance Competition and the All Native Basketball Tournament, if hotels were booked pretty much solid throughout the year…
The scary thing about this is that it’s all being driven by the Kitimat Modernization Project, a $3.5 billion undertaking that requires approximately 1,500 direct workers. Should Pacific NorthWest LNG proceed, it is a project estimated to cost about three times as much and require at least twice as many workers during the terminal’s construction phase.
People in Prince Rupert, justifiably so, have a mindset of “I’ll believe it when I see it” after being burned by a number of industry projects in the past. But in this case, by the time residents “see it” it will be far too late to adapt to what it means.