TERRACE city officials are away this week on a short notice trip to China to brief officials from the Qinhangdao Economic and Technological Development Zone on city permitting details for the land it purchased last year at the Skeena Industrial Development Park.
The civil engineering company All North has been doing preliminary planning work preparing infrastructure for an alfalfa protein extraction plant, the first of several factories on the 1,200 acre section of land purchased by the Chinese interests for $12 million last year.
“We flew to Beijing on May 24 and drove directly to Qinhuangdao. We will return to Beijing on Friday afternoon then home on Sunday,” said the city’s chief administrative officer Heather Avison who was on the business trip with city director of development services David Block.
Block and Avison are in China in a support capacity alongside the All North engineering team, which includes John Murray from Kelowna, Christina Cameron from Phoenix, Roger Lin from Calgary and Kory Yamashita from Terrace.
“All North has been hired by QETDZ/Taisheng to do this work and they want the city at the table to provide information on various bylaw requirements that need to be followed,” said Avison.
The trip was not budgeted for in the recently passed financial plan and has not been mentioned at recent council meetings. It is the third trip by the city to China related to the development since 2013, and Avison said they knew a planning trip was necessary in 2015, but not exactly when.
According to mayor Carol Leclerc the trip also has to do with big vision planning about what and where factories will fit on the land.
“David [Block] is the expert on all the zoning and rules and regulations that need to be done with city staff, and he will work very closely with the developers,” said Leclerc. “Meeting with different companies and seeing what is the best fit. What could fit there.”
She said the trip is an important step in bringing a job-creating industrial base home to Terrace.
“We want future jobs up there. It’s our industrial park. We want to see that area grow,” said Leclerc.
Leclerc said the development won’t happen overnight: “2015 and 2016 are the planning years. 2017 should be the start of the build.”
The Qinhuangdoa development zone, through its Canadian investment arm, Taisheng, has said it wants to have the alfalfa factory under construction by 2017 or 2018.