The federal government is injecting $21.9 million into Canada’s second largest container port to improve its capacity.
Terry Beech, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport travelled to Prince Rupert to make the announcement at the Port Interpretive Centre.
“This entire community is poised for growth. I’ve got to imagine that in all British Columbia there are few places as exciting as Prince Rupert,” Beech said in an interview following the announcement. “…as the port becomes more successful, you need to continue to make new investments in order to make sure that the port can continue to grow.”
Three Port of Prince Rupert projects will benefit from this investment to improve rail delays, and increase flow of traffic and terminal capability.
“The port now provides 5,000 jobs in the region and a lot of those jobs are right here in Prince Rupert,” said port CEO Shaun Stevenson, discussing the importance of expanding the port’s involvement in the area.
The biggest investment is $15 million for the two-lane road to connect Fairview Terminal to Ridley Island industrial site. This will divert truck traffic from downtown Prince Rupert. The project is meant to improve travel times from approximately 30 minutes to eight minutes.
There will also be $3.7 million for new rail tracks to feed into new terminals along the Road Rail Utility Corridor.
Another $3.7 million will go toward renovating tracks along the the Zanardi Rail Bridge to improve delays. The bridge is on the north end of Ridley Island and the rail entrance of the port.
“It took a great deal of planning both with the federal government but also our partners in DP World, CN and First Nations to bring this into focus and ensure that it’s a priority with the federal government for investment,” Stevenson said.
Prince Rupert Mayor Lee Brain was also in attendance at the announcement. He said completion of the projects would be a benefit to the city’s residents not only by improving the infrastructure through key city assets, but it would also reduce the number of trucks travelling through the city’s downtown core.
“Once that truck traffic is gone, it’s going to be much easier for us to redesign and re-coordinate what the downtown is going to look like in the future and enhance development opportunities,” he said.
“As the minister said earlier, it’s a slam dunk and I see it that way too, and I’m looking forward to seeing even more investments from the federal government moving forward.”
Concerns about environmental impacts
The federal funding announcements is coming on the heels of 10 charges that were laid against DP World, the Prince Rupert Port Authority, Fraser River Pile and Dredge Inc., BelPacific Excavating and Shoring Limited Partnership and Bel Contracting for fisheries violations during the construction of Fairview Terminal’s Phase 2 expansion.
When asked what would be done to ensure that future projects would have minimal environmental impacts, Stevenson said that the projects have gone through rigorous assessments to ensure that potential impacts will be mitigated.
“We’re going to make sure that we’re adhering to those mitigation plans, and are committed with the contractors to ensure that it’s done in a responsible way,” he said.