Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Is Delta ten times more important than Prince Rupert?

The recent announcement that the Port of Prince Rupert is set to begin the environmental study work required to move the prospect of Phase Two of Fairview on to the next level has been greeted locally as a positive sign in trouble economic times.

But it's a recent announcement out of Victoria about the development of the Delta port that seems to be creating the most buzz, not all of it complimentary to the government of Gordon Campbell and raises the idea that pure politics may be trumping sensible financial decisions.

The Tyee posted an article on line Monday, which takes a long hard look at the financial acumen of the Campbell Liberals and finds that the Premier and his team have come up a little short in the common sense department.

High on the evidence pile is the decision to spend over 1 billion dollars on the Deltaport container terminal expansion, a controversial project which has found no shortage of opponents who decry the impact that the huge industrial site will have on the dwindling amount of green space in the Metro Vancouver area. The prospect of further port development in Delta has been lamented and protested over for a number of years now, yet the Liberals seem adamant that the project and its required roadwork and infrastructure items go ahead.

The author of the piece is none other than Rafe Mair, the long time commentator on issues political in BC and more recently a rather frequent thorn in the side of the Premier.

The main thrust of the article is an open question as to why the Liberals are so intent on spending one billion dollars in Delta, to put in place a port that is certainly not wanted by a large number of the population and seems to suggest that the Liberals have missed the boat when it comes to the potential of the Prince Rupert port, which only received 120 million dollars in seed money for the examination of Phase Two locally.

The key passage in his article offers up an interesting question at the end of the preamble, offering up a suggestion that more than economic development could be in play when it comes to decisions coming out of Victoria.

Premier Campbell doesn't explain how, when he decided to expand Deltaport, he evidently didn't know that the Panama Canal will be doubled in capacity by 2015, that the fabled Northwest Passage will soon be taking freighters and that Prince Rupert is a day and a half to two days closer to the main markets. Against all common sense, Campbell & Co are putting a mere $120 million into Prince Rupert while it's spending a billion on Deltaport while savaging ALR protected lands and sensitive wildlife preserves. Could that be because people in Prince Rupert don't vote right?

It might make for an interesting spur to the debate when it comes time for Gary Coons and Herb Pond to meet in debate in April.

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