Thursday, September 24, 2009

Podunk Below the Masthead, Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Prince Rupert stakes a claim for some potash, a voice in favour of the HST and Encana's safety record is under the microscope, some of the items of note for Wednesday.

RUPERT ROLLED OUT THE WELCOME MAT FOR CANPOTEX-- Tuesday night's meeting at the Lester Centre should have left no doubts in the minds of Canpotex officials that Prince Rupert for the most part is onboard for any plans to develop a potash terminal at Ridley Island (Daily News Archives )

He's probably not the most well received guy in the province, but John Winter of the B. C. Chamber is going from town to town to sell the merits of the HST, trying to highlight the advantages to business of the combined tax plan that would replace the current provincial sales tax system (Daily News Archives )

Port Edward residents have to boil their water for the next three weeks as Port Edward begins the process of switching their waterlines over to a new system. The boil water order will be in effect while that transition takes place, which involves flushing and draining of the districts lines. (Daily News Archives )

The Sports section featured a review of the efforts of our participants in the BC Seniors Games as well as a look at the graduation rate of the Prince Rupert Minor Hockey Association, which this year sees eight former PRMHA players off to various junior hockey programs across the province.

Encana Violations--
With Encana's profile growing in the Northwest, the CBC took a look at some of the background of the company's safety record following the release of a report from a Conservation board (listen to audio report here)

Front Page headline story
Rupert rolled out the welcome mat for Canpotex
By Monica Lamb-Yorski
The Prince Rupert Daily News
Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Canpotex came to town Tuesday to see if the community supports its proposed Potash Export Terminal on Ridley Island - and the community came out in droves.

Even a sign staked on the grass across the road from the Lester Centre of the Arts boasted "Prince Rupert is Potashville".

The 700-seat theatre was almost filled to capacity and those who attended heard from the company's Vice President of Planning and Development John Somers and a panel representing CN, BC Construction, Hatch Mott MacDonald, Prince Rupert Port Authority and the environmental assessment company Stantec Consulting.

Moderator Patti Schom-Moffat told the audience she had never seen a turnout out like it before. "This is a great showing. Prince Rupert's the right place to be."

Somers echoed Schom-Moffat's words saying he was very impressed to see such a showing of support.

"This touches what we're trying to achieve. I appreciate the time and effort that you've shown.

We're here to ask if we should go ahead with Prince Rupert?"

Simultaneously, the company has been looking at expanding existing facilities in Vancouver or building a new terminal on Ridley Island.

The company has built a business plan that's very similar for both places with capital costs, investments and terminal running costs, very much the same and business-wise they stack up very close. The decision may be based on support from the community.

"By the end of the year Canpotex will make a decision. We are one hundred percent committed to the consultation process. It's all about building relationship and trust. If people have patience things can happen and if we come to Prince Rupert we want to be a proper member of the community," Somers said.

Cultural Advisor for the Nine Allied Tribes of Lax Kw'Alaams and Metlakatla James Bryant said he welcomed Canpotex to traditional territory, and business opportunities that they have, with proper consultation, reminding the company that his people are the ones that should be consulted.

"In 1906 when the Grand Trunk Pacific came in there was no such thing as proper consultation. Today things have changed and proper accommodation must be made," Bryant added.

After the information session Somers said Canpotex wants to do things right the first time.
"We don't want to build this thing and then end up with a bunch of court cases. We've been coming up here for the last two years meeting with First Nations."

Eugene Bryant, representing the Lax Kw'Alaams council sent greetings from his chief councillor and said seeing the theatre so full was a reminder that the communities need to get together and talk more often.

"We're not anti-business or against development," Eugene said. "We went to Saskatchewan and toured their facility. There's a rumour out there that the Nine Allied Tribes are trying to keep business out of here and that's not true. It never was. Someone's spreading propaganda."

Looking out into the audience Eugene assured that his community cares about the people of Prince Rupert.

"You are all here because you love Prince Rupert. Citizens have the same love and affection as we do and we take you into consideration."

The logistics of building a terminal on Ridley Island were also part of the discussion and if the terminal were to come to Prince Rupert, the potash would be loaded with a revoluntionary 'travelling all-weather shiploader'.

"Potash has to be kept dry, put in the terminal dry and put into the ship dry. We are on track to unveil a 360-day all-weather loader if we come to Prince Rupert, but it's not something that would be required in Vancouver."

When asked when the project would start, Somers explained that the timeline would be determined by the market place.

"It's not 'if' but 'when'. If we decided on Prince Rupert, it could be 2011 or the end of 2010, depending on environmental work."

Local business owner Jamie Storey asked if there were any stumbling blocks for Prince Rupert being chosen and Somers' answer suggested there were not.

"Rupert has immediate freight ways and with CN as a partner we would have better communication service. We would have a stronger relationship with the community. It would be long term. All the bands and the history here is tremendous. It's a very nice fit," Somers said.
Lonny Kubas, Senior Manager of CN, responding to rail concerns confirmed there will be an assessment on traffic flows - both rail and vehicular.

The railway has capacity because the lines are underutilized but additional sidings or double tracking would be added, if needed, in the future, Kubas said.

High school teacher Larry Hope asked if the company had a relationship with the federal government and if there were a change in government would that have an affect.

"We're a private company and our business is not contingent on federal or provincial funding," Somers said.

When asked about job opportunities, Dave van Rensburg, engineer with Hatch Mott MacDonald who was here in the 1980s when Ridley Terminals was being built, noted there would be 250 to 300 direct construction jobs for a two to three year period.

"We would source as many jobs as possible locally. We're not looking at putting up a labour camp," he said.

Other spin-offs would be through transport and housing with permanent positions down the road of 80 to 100, he added.

There would also be an increased number of tugboats, rail and surveillance agency jobs, said Somers.

"With three to five loaded trains and three to five empty trains each week, there'd be crews and mechanical staff needed as well," commented Kubas.

The last person to speak from the audience was City Councillor Kathy Bedard.

"I do truly believe you're going to come here. We have the people that you want here. Once you say 'yes' we will do everything we can to get our young people ready."

Somers closed, saying the enthusiasm from Prince Rupert was obvious but warned there could be delays even if Prince Rupert is chosen because of the world's economic situation.

"Right now," he added, "we're coming to the point where we're making a decision. And if we choose Prince Rupert it may not be immediate that we break ground."

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