The B.C. Trucking Association (BCTA) is applauding an investment into the Port of Prince Rupert, but has pointed out that its infrastructure priorities remain elsewhere.
The provincial government announced it would invest $25 million into the port to help improve and expand operations, particularly infrastructure at the Ridley Island Export Logistics Platform.
“Our investment in the Port of Prince Rupert will help create new good-paying jobs in our region, while improving western trade corridors and helping Canadian importers and exporters get goods to market,” said Jennifer Rice, MLA for North Coast, on behalf of Rob Fleming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “It will support regional businesses and provide the necessary infrastructure to boost our provincial economy to help build back stronger from the hit of the Covid-19 pandemic. This is an important investment in the future of Prince Rupert and of B.C. as a whole.”
The project is led by the Prince Rupert Port Authority and will span more than 70 acres, creating a platform to increase the port’s capacity for transloading B.C. and western Canadian natural resource products for containerized export by sea to international markets. Once complete, the port’s transloading capacity will go from 75,000 20-foot equivalent units to more than 400,000 annually.
The expansion will also include new and updated rail tracks, dedicated roadways to and from the Fairview Terminal, and a new offloading and storage facility with related large-scale equipment.
The government believes the project will add essential economic benefits, including supporting regional businesses by creating 200 jobs in transloading, and an additional 2,000 jobs in other areas, including trucking, something the BCTA welcomes.
“The facility will certainly continue the economic development and is very welcome news, but it’s not an entirely trucking story,” said BCTA president and CEO Dave Earle. “We’re an important part of a much bigger picture. This investment signals to our international trading partners, and to the rest of Canada, that the port of Prince Rupert is growing and will provide more opportunities to access the economies of the Pacific Rim.”
One carrier that will see a growth in opportunity with the expansion is Gat Leedm Logistics, which operates at the port.
“Metlakatla First Nation participates in many aspects of the growth of the container business at the Port of Prince Rupert through our agreements, port infrastructure construction projects, and entrepreneurial ventures like Gat Leedm, the largest container trucking operation in Prince Rupert,” said Harold Leighton, chief councilor for the Metlakatla First Nation. “The development of the export logistics platform is another opportunity to continue our shared success through both business and employment opportunities.”
Earle said though this is a positive step, more pressing infrastructure investments are needed on the Hwy. 1 corridor in the Fraser Valley, where portions have not been upgraded since originally built over a half-century ago.
The Port of Prince Rupert project is funded through both private and public investments, and includes a $49.8 million contribution from the federal government in addition to the provincial government’s $25 million investment.
“We thank the B.C. government for investing in the development of the Ridley Island Export Logistics Platform, and its recognition of the value it will create for B.C. export industries and the communities that economically rely on them,” said Shaun Stevenson, president and CEO of the Prince Rupert Port Authority. “This pivotal project presents an unprecedented opportunity for sustainable economic recovery, improved competitiveness, and greater diversification and stability throughout Northern B.C.”