THE provincial jobs, tourism and training minister endured windy and rainy conditions in a June 20 morning trip to the City of Terrace’s Skeena Industrial Development Park south of the Northwest Regional Airport to witness for herself what the city has accomplished there.
Shirley Bond, also the B.C. Liberal MLA for Prince George-Valemount, said having a large section of flat, stable land for industrial purposes is becoming rarer in the province than one might think, in reference to the approximately 2,000 acres that make up the park.
Most of the land is crown land for now and the city has an agreement with the province to buy portions when needed for resale to companies and other agencies.
The city has already sold a portion to the Kitselas First Nation’s Kitselas Development Corporation which then did a deal with a Prince George worker accommodation camp hired to provide housing for a natural gas pipeline workforce.
“The park is an important part of the development [city] council is considering so I think it was important to see it on the ground and get a sense of what their vision is for it,” she said of her visit to the industrial park.
She briefly stopped at the accommodation camp being built for the Pacific Trails Pipeline workforce.
“One of the advantages of this project is it is a very large piece of property that is suitable to this kind of project, and there are not that many of them when you look at the province. It’s pretty much flat with lots of great gravel,” said Bond of the industrial park.
“We have had a roll in that as well,” Bond said of the industrial park establishment.
“The project is on our major investments office list, so we have actually been working with the city and potential investors. So it’s good to be on the ground and see what it looks like.”
The province’s major investments office had a role in connecting the City of Terrace with Chinese companies interested in establishing a manufacturing foothold in B.C.
That connection has resulted in two visits by city officials to China since last fall in anticipation of selling as much as 1,000 acres of the industrial park to Chinese firms.
Bond said she sees the development park and bringing foreign manufacturers here as an important diversification of the economy.
She said the potential for Chinese investors to build manufacturing plans here is a sign of diversification success.
“The opportunity the city has here is job creation and tax revenue,” Bond added.
The minister did add that her ministry and the province will play a central role in policy and legislation surrounding the development of any kind of workforce associated with Chinese manufacturing plants.
“There will continue to be strict regulations. We are also looking at ways to increase immigration numbers in our province because there are people who want to come here and live permanently in Canada, and immigration has been the backbone of this country so we are working very closely with the federal government to make sure employers who decide they have a need for employees from outside our country, there needs to be a rigorous process in place,” said Bond.