June 2, 2009
Over 30 communities and 350,000 people are connected to the future of Ridley Terminals as a public asset that moves the resources that drive our economy to the world. Central and northern BC is the growth engine of BC’s economy producing two thirds of our provincial exports. Industries based in our communities depend on the Port of Prince Rupert and Ridley Terminals as key parts of our vision to be a ‘knowledge based resource economy connected to the world’.
The North Central Municipal Association and Northern Development Initiative Trust believe that Ridley Terminals is a strategic public asset for our growing bio-energy, wood pellet and high quality coal products to reach world markets. We envision additional resource export products being bulk shipped out of Ridley Terminals’ deep ocean berths as well. For that, we need a gateway to the world that operates in a public, fair and transparent manner with an understanding of the need for northern solutions to northern transportation issues. As a public terminal facility, we have seen a substantial investment by the wood pellet industry in this storage and loading facility. We believe other industries can be encouraged to invest in an effectively run bulk port that is respectful of the people and the economies of central and northern BC.
Ridley Terminals is key to the continued expansion of family by supporting jobs in our mining, forestry and bioenergy industries. Efficient and cost effective export means that Ridley Terminals must remain a public asset to ensure there is growth and diversification in the wealth creating rural regions of British Columbia. As mayors, regional district and community leaders working together with industry, we intend to pull our region out of this recession with a more diversified economy. This region will be further insulated from a future recession as long as it has a diversified resource base with the most efficient and least congested public port system in western North America. A publicly operated Ridley Terminals is critical to that vision.
Our northern federal politicians, like the Honourable Jay Hill and his supportive federal and provincial counterparts, clearly understand the importance of the public sector’s involvement in Ridley Terminals. We believe that the next phase of growth of the Port of Prince Rupert should envelop Ridley Terminals to make it the premier public port on the west coast of North America. The efficient and effective operation that Chief Executive Officer Don Krusel leads at the Port of Prince Rupert has gained the confidence of communities and industry. The Port of Prince Rupert is a clear example of the benefits of a public asset with judicious partnership and private investments.
We agree with Pierre Gratton, Chief Executive Officer of the Mining Association of BC, that there are obvious synergies and efficiencies between the two ports. Our resource industries could play a partnership role ensuring that Ridley Terminals operates on a not-for-profit basis that is focused on delivering high quality, competitive service for northern economic interests and re-investing to build on the strength of our economy.
Northern Development Initiative Trust is an independent regional economic development corporation focused on stimulating economic growth and job creation in central and northern British Columbia. Over $46.4 million in funding has been committed to 317 projects with a total project value of over $306.4 million.
For information on funding programs and economic development in central and northern British Columbia, visit: http://www.northerndevelopment.bc.ca/
The North Central Municipal Association is an association of local governments whose mission is to address issues and to move forward initiatives for the benefit of its members.
For information on the North Central Municipal Association, visit: http://ncma.enorthernbc.com/
Mayor Evan Saugstad
District of Chetwynd, and
Vice-Chair, Northern Development Initiative Trust
Phone: (250) 401-4102, (250) 788-5572 (cell)