The Qinhuangdao Economic and Technological Development Zone (QETDZ) from China has the new year pegged for finalizing engineering plans to begin work on the 1,118 acres at the Skeena Industrial Development Park it purchased from the city last year through a Vancouver-based company.
A delegation from the zone, along with representatives from governments in that area, included a short visit to the site just south of the Northwest Regional Airport today as part of a one-day visit to the city.
Richard Zhang from Taisheng International Investment Services, which acts for the development zone in Canada, says that master plans for the location, which takes up the majority of the development park site, have advanced since the spring when work got underway with engineering and consulting company Allnorth.
“It’s the first step, we need to follow the bylaws of the city of Terrace,” he said.
What this involves is testing for water, establishing possible sewer solutions, electricity, everything that will be needed to make the site viable for investors.
While tentative plans for an alfalfa processing plant have already been announced, the QETDZ is courting other investors contemplating other industrial activity.
Right now the site is a forested area with only dirt road access leading off the main paved road at the industrial park.
“First we need to make this land ready for the investors, so now we will be working on master planning for the whole industrial park site,” said Zhang.
The alfalfa plant plans call for it to be located on 32 acres, processing the commodity which would be shipped in from growers on the Prairies. After processing the alfalfa would then be exported to China as feed for livestock and for people.
Tentative estimates place the number of jobs at the plant in the 170 range.
Zhang added that his firm has kept in touch with Dahui Biotechnology Co. Ltd., the company that would build the alfalfa protein extraction plant.
“As far as I know, right now they are doing some investigations for getting the raw materials of the alfalfa and we also help them to consult with the provincial government agricultural ministry,” he said.
“We want to determine where we can get a big quantity of the alfalfa. As far as I know, the area near Terrace has not that much alfalfa, it’s not suitable for growing alfalfa so we need to go a bit farther like Prince George, even farther than there,” said Zhang.
Another potential investor is a manufacturer of automotive wheels, and its representatives have visited the site twice and have met with Rio Tinto Alcan to discuss purchasing aluminum, he said.
“The wheel is made in China but they import the raw material, and they are selling the product in North America, so it is quite reasonable for them to find a place out of China like the City of Terrace to make their product and then they can sell in North America,” said Zhang.
Rio Tinto Alcan confirmed that it has spoken with companies about investing in the area and will continue to do so but that any discussions are confidential.
According to Zhang, final arrangements with prospective factories depends on getting the park ready.
“We need some time to make the land ready for investment,” he said. “At the same time we are doing the business promotion.”
“Everywhere, not only China,” he said about where the companies might be coming from. “We want local companies to be there as well. Local, international, they are all welcome.”
Today’s visit includes speeches and the signing at city hall of a friendship agreement between the Chinese delegation and city council.
Also on hand are representatives from the Kitselas First Nation and the Kitsumkalum First Nation.
Gifts are to be exchanged.