Friday, April 23, 2010

Podunk Below the Masthead (Thursday, April 22, 2010)

The latest news from the port, Herb Pond is back on the job search and Mr. Cullen goes to Washington, some of the items of interest in our Thursday review.

Daily News, front page, headline story
PORT ANNOUNCES 87 PER CENT INCREASE IN TRAFFIC FOR FIRST QUARTER -- Thursday's headline story features George T. Baker's obsequious homage to the powers of Don Krusel, the President and CEO of the Prince Rupert Port Authority. Outlining some of the details of Mr. Krusel's recent session with the Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce. As we outlined yesterday on the blog, Mr. Krusel offered up a rather positive forecast and potential blue print for short and long term prospects for the Port.

Kitkatla Band members have given Elmer Moody Jr. another two year term to work on his plans to revitalize the community, Mr. Moody won re-election to his post earlier this month and now plans to continue on with his blue print for growth for the community.

Former Mayor Herb Pond is apparently back on the job market as the Daily provides word of his departure from the position of Band Administrator at Lax Kw'alaams. Holding true to the ususal "Confidential and Private" credo when it comes to such decisions, Chief Councillor Gary Reece outlined that the search is now on for a new administrator but that he expected a difficult task ahead due to the "limited availability of local talent capable of filling it."

The sports section featured  a look at the Gold trail for Prince Rupert's Adrian Liu, as he and badminton doubles partner Derrick Ng returned home from Peru with gold medals from the World Open Invitational. The Thursday edition of the paper also recaps the finals of the Prince Rupert Co-Ed Volleyball league.

(Daily News Archives for April 22 items to be provided upon posting)

Port announces 87 per cent increase in traffic for first quarter
Kitkatla Band re-elects Moody
Victims Services rallys to support youth in the community
Port Simpson looking for a new band administrator
High school students share talents

The Northern View
No new items were posted to the Northern View website on Thursday

CFTK TV 7 News
Bush Suit Against RCMP Dropped -- The Mother of Ian Bush, the Houston resident who died while in Police custody in 2005 has chosen not to pursue her civil lawsuit against the RCMP (see article here)

CFTK TV 7 News
Cullen talks energy, carbon, fish in D.C. -- Mr. Cullen goes to Washington, details of his efforts in the US capital (see article here)

CBC News Northern British Columbia, Daybreak North
No new items were posted to the Daybreak North website on Thursday

Daybreak North is only posting selected items on their website now. The most recently posted items can be found on the archive page for Daybreak North click here  

Daily News, front page, headline story
Port announces 87 per cent increase in traffic for first quarter 
By George T. Baker 
The Daily News 
Thursday, April 22, 2010

Whenever Don Krusel speaks to the Prince Rupert community at large, he has to be very, very careful with what he says.

With a syllable, the Prince Rupert Port Authority President and CEO can influence the real estate market, small business investment and perhaps even part rivers.

So, with Wednesday’s announcement that the port has had an 87 per cent increase in container traffic, an outline of the economic impact that the port has on the community, and the prospective plans the port has for real growth, Krusel wanted to make it clear that while the numbers are impressive, this really is all about making the case to the federal government that the Port of Prince Rupert is the Asia-Pacific Gateway.

“It’s not about where the PRPA is at. It is about where we want it to go tomorrow,” explained Krusel.

“We need to have a plan and a vision on how this port can be a gateway to Asia and North America.”

 Krusel might have been a cautious bird, but there are definitely some things to crow about. And when the confident leader of the local port spoke about the amazing first quarter, he received applause.

Last year saw port traffic grow by 15 per cent and container traffic grow by 46 per cent in the face of the worst global recession since the Great Depression. Other west coast ports saw declining traffic and a 15 per cent drop in container traffic.

The Port of Prince Rupert is also generating substantial revenues to all levels of government, totaling $35 million in taxes annually, including $22 million in federal taxes, $9 million to the Province of British Columbia and $4 million in municipal taxes.

The 2,720 full time jobs include: 1,300 in direct employment attributed to port-related operations such as the terminals; 740 indirect jobs involving supplier businesses providing services, like vessel repairs, to port operations; and 680 induced jobs providing services, such as home construction and retail, to workers employed directly and indirectly at port operations.

In that context, the 2010 first quarter container numbers are significant.

“Years ago, when we talked about the container traffic… there were a lot of naysayers. A lot of people did not believe that we would be successful. Ladies and gentlemen, it is a tremendous success. And we are continuing to grow.”

The PRPA’s Vision 2020 and the Economic Impact Study were rolled out on Wednesday with the hope that it wouldn’t be seen as simply boasting, but also a way for the community to quantify the port.

Vision 2020 is the PRPA’s blueprint to expanding the port’s initiatives. Some of the port’s ambitions have been explored before – the desire for a logistics centre, general cargo (such as autos and project cargo), bulk terminal, secondary industrial and diversifying its existing terminal.

But this is the first time the PRPA’s top executives laid out their five different development clusters to the general Prince Rupert community.

 “Something very significant and very exciting is happening at the PRPA. We are experiencing some very significant growth. This port is really growing in its recognition as an international gateway,” Krusel announced.

However, in spite of this fact, Krusel added that there is a lot of noise out there in the port channels trying to steal away the attention of the public, policy makers and stakeholders in general.

Often, ports such as Long Beach-Los Angeles, Tacoma, Seattle and Vancouver have used Prince Rupert as a warning signal that they must receive taxpayer dollars for upgrades to their ports or they will lose market share to the North Coast. With the exception of Vancouver, they also use financial incentives to encourage shippers to use their ports instead of Prince Rupert.

Therefore, part of the strategy for winning over different players in the port scene is to re-brand themselves, taking cues from Canada’s Asia-Pacific Gateway initiative. It’s a play that Krusel said is not endemic to the North American West Coast.

 “There are a lot of people calling themselves gateways. There is an Atlantic Gateway, there is a Central Canada Gateway - competition on the West Coast of North America as to who is the ‘real’ Gateway to Asia,” he pointed out.

Being tucked up into the northwest corner of North America, it is very difficult to attract the attention that I think we deserve,” commented Krusel.

Krusel’s talk at the Chamber luncheon was billed as the unveiling of the economic impact study of the Port Authority on the community.

In that sense, the economic impact study showed once the vision was implemented and successful, the result would be 9,100 FTE jobs accounting for $610 million in wages and a $2.1 billion economic impact.

The full build-out would also generate an estimated $104 million in annual tax revenues: $11 million in municipal taxes, $26 million provincially and $67 million in federal taxes.

Reaction at the luncheon was positive.

Mayor Jack Mussallem said that, in terms of getting the word out to the stakeholder streets, Krusel’s delivery was convincing.

“The PRPA has always been and will always be in the market to sell itself. The impact study proves that the PRPA is the most efficient container port on the west coast of North America,” said Mussallem.

 Mussallem added that the revelation of the numbers did not come to him as a shock.

 “We have said for a long time that we also have the most efficient grain terminal on the West Coast and in North America. We have also seen the coal volumes at Ridley Terminals Inc. have increased.” In the last few months, added Mussallem, the coal numbers went from 900,000 metric tonnes to over 1 million. If the port is to continue its growth, it will need buy-in from Coastal First Nations.

Mark Ignas, band manager for Kitikatla, was also at the meeting on Wednesday and said that positive throughput news is matched by some positive developments at the board table.

 “Things are going well in terms of sorting the respective issues that have been on the table for a number of years.

We look to close an agreement shortly,” said Ignas.

 While Krusel wanted to be careful not to build up expectations for immediate results, he did mention that something had to change.

 He added that Ridley Island should no longer be referred to as an Island, but instead as the Ridley Industrial Terminal.

 “Asian partners are confused about how you get to the island,” he joked.

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