TERRACE Mayor Dave Pernarowski says the city is closing in on a deal which would see a Chinese economic development authority purchase up to 1,000 acres of the city-controlled Skeena Industrial Development Park located just south of the Northwest Regional Airport.
Pernarowski returned from a four-day trip to China last week and while there, signed what he called a “progress report” which built on an earlier memorandum of understanding signed when a combined city and Kitselas First Nation delegation visited there last November.
The deal would see one or more Chinese manufacturing companies through the Qinhuangdao Economic and Technological Development Zone (QETDZ) set up shop at the industrial park.
Negotiating details have yet to be released but when the Kitselas First Nation’s Kitselas Development Corporation bought 165 acres at the park from the city this year, the deal was worth $1,647,700 or $10,000 an acre.
A recent report by the corporation suggested its holdings are now worth between $30,000 and $35,000 an acre for a value range of between $5.1 million and $6 million for a parcel of land that’s approximately one-fifth the size wanted by the QETDZ.
Helping broker the Terrace-Chinese land sales deal is the provincial government’s Major Investments Office which first suggested to the Chinese they consider the industrial park here.
Pernarowski said it’s the only trade deal of its kind currently underway between Canada and China.
“We are currently the only project in Canada that China is looking at right now like this in terms of moving into an industrial park and developing out an industrial park concept,” said Pernarowski,
Pernarowski was accompanied on this latest trip by city corporate lands manager Herb Dusdal and Blaine Moore from the Terrace Economic Development Authority.
The trio attended a trades conference in a city on the outskirts of Beijing called Langfang where they met with officials from the city of Qinhuangdao and Hebei province.
In attendance was the mayor of Qinhuangdao and manufacturing officials from the QETDZ located within that city, the vice governor of Hebei as well as two B.C. government trade officials stationed in Beijing.
Pernarowski said the talks were held over long dinners with a focus on responding to questions the potential investors had about what to expect when doing business in Canada, as well as laying a foundation for a working relationship.
“We are going to be establishing a working group that would be a combination of administrative staff from the city along with QETDZ officials to help move the project forward and make sure all the proper steps are being taken to get something done pretty quickly,” said Pernarowski.
He said a return delegation of Chinese officials, to be at least partially subsidized by the provincial Major Investments Office, will be in Terrace hopefully in late June to further the negotiations.
“After the delegation comes in the next month or so, there will be more specific detail on one manufacturer we have been working with that we could release from our negotiation and discussions,” said Pernarowski.
The QETDZ is looking to purchase industrial development park land for industries that will both supply product to be shipped back to China and also for distribution in North American markets, Pernarowski said.
What might be manufactured here is still unknown, it was previously disclosed that the city was in talks with wood product manufacturers, pipeline construction companies, an aluminum wheel manufacturer, and agricultural processing facilities, all of which are being encouraged by Chinese government policies to globalize the huge country’s manufacturing base.