The sale by the city of nearly 10 acres of land at its Skeena Industrial Development Park to Global Dewatering for $250,000 last year represented the first sign of success for a project that dates back nearly two decades.
More commonly known as the airport industrial lands, the park consists of 2,000 acres of property, most of which is provincial crown land. The City of Terrace has first call on that land if needed and has already purchased a portion for resale to companies.
Since last year's sale to Global Dewatering, other confirmed and potential tenants have arrived on the scene.
Veresen, a Calgary-based energy company, is interested in a parcel of land on which it could very well build a natural gas-powered turbine plant to produce electricity.
Last November, a combined Terrace and Kitselas First Nation delegation traveled to China to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Qinhuangdao Economic and Technological Development Zone located in Qinhuangdao, a city on the north coast of China. The memorandum could lead to a purchase by Chinese industrial and manufacturing interests of industrial park land.
Located on Kitselas traditional territory, the city and the Kitselas have a cost and profit sharing arrangement regarding the sales of industrial park lands. Earlier this year, the Kitselas First Nation's own corporation, the Kitselas Development Corporation, purchased 66.7 hectares at the park for $1.647 million.
The corporation, in turn, has now sold a portion of what it bought to a Prince George-based worker accommodation company for future development. Falcon Camp Services wants to build a camp to hold up to 400 people in connection with the planned Pacific Trails Pipeline, the pipeline that would carry natural gas to the planned Kitimat LNG project.
It was the federal government that unlocked the potential for city control of the provincial crown land south of the airport. That took place in the mid-1990s when the federal government decided it was getting out of the small airport business.
And since the airport was on provincial land that took in all those acres, turning the facility over to a local authority when the federal government exited the scene put into play a city move to acquire the land for itself.
Then-mayor Jack Talstra and then-city administrator Ron Poole and other city senior staffers spearheaded the move.
The theory was simple – companies would do well to set up in Terrace. It was already the service and supply centre for the northwest as well as being in the geographic centre of the region. South was the Alcan (now Rio Tinto Alcan) smelter, west were the port facilities at Prince Rupert and north was promising mining territory.
The city took ownership of the land in 2005, it lacked the money for such basic necessities such as a road leading off of Highway 37 to the site, not to mention services such as power and water. The access problem was answered in 2009 when the federal and provincial governments each promised the city $668,000, provided it came up with $668,000 of its own.