Last week, the newly elected Prince Rupert council was put to the test in the form of a three-plus hour public hearing regarding the zoning of Lot 444 to allow for potential LNG development.
When it was all said and done, and in the face of some fairly substantial opposition, council unanimously voted to approve the zoning. It couldn’t have been easy to look into the faces of people who spent their evening passionately explaining their oppositions and then vote against their wishes, but in this case it was absolutely the right decision to make.
You see, the key word in all of this is “potential”. Zoning the land in no way, shape or form granted approval for WCC LNG to construct a terminal on Tuck Inlet. Before that can happen, the provincial and federal government would have to give approval to the project and, because it is located on municipal land, the city itself would have to green-light the terminal design.
On the project side of things, all the decision of council last Wednesday did was open up that land for WCC LNG to move their project to the next of what will be many phases before any shovels break ground on the site.
While the zoning of the land is probably the most insignificant decision council will have to make in the grand scheme of Lot 444 development, it is one that holds significant benefits. For simply zoning the land — not granting project approval or bringing LNG to Tuck Inlet — within the next 30 days, the City of Prince Rupert will be receiving a $7 million boost to its bottom line.
That is $7 million that could be put toward the estimated $250 million infrastructure or $7 million for services that the taxpayers of Prince Rupert won’t be asked to shoulder through increases come budget time.
In short, it’s $7 million coming to a city that desperately needs all the money it can get. And it is money coming because the new council was able to see past the opposition and make the decision that is best for Prince Rupert.