Thursday, January 28, 2010

Santa isn't the only one who gets a wish list!

With both the provincial and federal governments working out the final details on their respective budgets, an umbrella group of northern industrial and government leaders have put together their wish list for consideration by the two levels of government.

Nine signatures, including that of Port of Prince Rupert chair Don Krusel were attached to the pre budget submission and Prince Rupert was featured prominently in a couple of the key recommendations in a report issued through the offices of Initiatives Prince George on Wednesday.

While the majority of the points to ponder involve items high on the list of Prince George officials, it's not a surprise that among the requests for funding from the federal and provincial governments, the phase two development of the Port of Prince Rupert was one of the key items on the submission list.

The submission overview provided some background on the ports efforts and success thus far and then made it's pitch for consideration at budget time:

Plans are underway for the second phase of the port development and the development of a bulk, general cargo, and automobile terminal as well as logistics capabilities. The key to realizing this nearly $3 Billion in private sector development is a $300 million investment in common-user infrastructure to unlock the laden potential of the Port of Prince Rupert and enable this investment. Thus far, the Prince Rupert Port Authority has been unable to subscribe to the same Asia Pacific Gateway and Corridor investments that have been made in the Vancouver gateway.
Given the strategic current and future role of the Fairview Container Port at Prince Rupert to the economy of Northern British Columbia, Western Canada, and US Heartland markets, the federal government should provide funding assistance for the private/public Prince Rupert Port expansion in the forthcoming federal budget.

Further fibre optic connectivity also featured a Prince Rupert link, with the port again featured as one of the selling points for increased federal and provincial cooperation and financial assistance.

Investments in redundant fibre optics must be made in Northern BC to provide back-up in the event of a breach in existing fibre lines and to enable high-tech, high-value, and high-wage job creation in Northern British Columbia. The technological requirements of the growing northern transportation corridor, coupled with the potential for additional high-tech economic activity (i.e. high tech data centres) underscores the need for an additional fibre optic loop for the Port of Prince Rupert and the Prince George transportation hub through Northeast British Columbia to Edmonton, Alberta.

The federal government should give priority to working with the Government of British Columbia and private sector telecommunications firms to address the need for fibre redundancy in Northern British Columbia, particularly at the key transportation nodes of Prince George and Prince Rupert.

Some other key items of interest for the North coast included:

That the federal and provincial governments engage in community level consultation to ensure that all current and future infrastructure investments are actively promoting and encouraging realistic and long term Aboriginal participation in the workforce.

That the federal and provincial governments consider targeted investments in educational institutions that have a proven track record of delivering services to Aboriginal individuals and communities.

There was also a request for clean power initiatives and a more innovative approach to NavCanada funding at local airports across Northern BC.

The full submission of the groups requests can be found from the Initiatives Prince George website.
Government officials will have about a month or so to look over the submitted items and do the number crunching to see if they can fit them into the financial overview for 2010. The provincial governments budget will be delivered on March 2nd while the Federal version of the financial blue print comes out on March 4th.

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