Thursday, September 24, 2009

Canpotex finds a welcoming ear from Rupertites

Tuesday night’s information session hosted by Canpotex at the Lester Center of the Arts provided the kind of feedback that would surely warm the heart of any calculating capitalist industrialists.

With signs of welcome on the outside and the inside of the Lester Centre almost completely full, the overwhelming message sent to Canpotex officials is that Rupert would like to be the home of their expansion plans.

Canpotex hosted the event to try and gauge the interest from the community in their plans, which in effect seem to come down to expanding their existing operation in Vancouver or constructing a brand new, state of the art terminal on the shores of Ridley Island.

The development if it takes place would consist of storage facilities and the construction of an all weather ship loading machinery, a key element of the project considering Rupert’s legendary rainfall and wind conditions. The all weather loader is an added expense for the Rupert option, as Canpotex officials said that such a process would not be needed if they were to expand the Vancouver terminal.

Part of the night’s discussions also revolved around consultation with First Nations of the area, with members of Lax Kw’alaams and Metlakatla seeking out cooperation from Canpotex, the larger issue of the perceptions of First Nations involvement in the process was also discussed, particularly the impression that the Allied Tribes of Lax Kw’alaams and Metlakatla were trying to block any new industry from setting up on the north coast, a charge that they rejected as divisive.

The evening featured a question and answer session which allowed locals to seek out further information on the project. Councillor Kathy Bedard offered up her thoughts that she believed that Canpotex would in the end choose Prince Rupert and offered the support of the community to be prepared for that decision.

Should they prove Mrs. Bedard to be correct, there would be 300 construction jobs created during the construction phase, with close to 100 jobs created when the Terminal comes on line perhaps as early as 2011.

That decision should come before the end of the year, however, Canpotex officials were cautious to point out that they were at the mercy of the current economic climate of the world, which could see delays in construction and operation.

CFTK TV had provided a background piece on the Canpotex plans previous to Tuesday night’s meeting.

The Northern View had the first reviews of the community meeting posted to their website by Tuesday evening.
Update: September 25
CFTK provided the following report on TV7 outlining the developments of Tuesday night's meeting.

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