The build-out of the Skeena Industrial Development Park (SIDP) is moving forward, though slightly delayed with the completion of necessary infrastructure.
With 2,400-hectares of land split between three stakeholders, the park’s build-out creates the potential for Terrace to establish itself as a major producer of international and domestic goods with a focus on Chinese markets.
A variety of businesses have already investigated or proposed to manufacture goods at the SIDP including aluminium, food, containerized LNG, fibreboard and other wood and steel products.
Terrace has been looking to the future for opportunities to reinvent itself as the city faces increasing pressure to generate new sources of revenue to support a growing population.
“The development of the SIDP is a priority project for Terrace as we seek to diversify our economy, generate new revenue sources, and create an even more prosperous community,” says Terrace mayor Carol Leclerc.
Burnaby-based Chinese manufacturer Taisheng International Investment Services Inc. owns a bulk of the land at 1,187 acres on behalf of the Qinhuangdao Economic and Technological Development Zone (QETDZ).
Global Dewatering Ltd., which specializes in the removal of groundwater from industrial locations, owns 17 acres. Kitselas First Nation owns a 172-acre parcel with a portion under lease to Chevron and partnership projects on additional lands to support major projects nearby.
QETDZ is working with a budget of more than $100 million to prepare its site and lay infrastructure, which includes extending Jack Talstra Way, the main entry point into the SIDP, designing a water and sewer system, and installing shallow utilities including telephone lines, cable, and electric. Most of the shallow utility work is finished, along with paving for Jack Talstra Way. Currently, Taisheng is going through an environmental assessment for its water system.
Delays have likely pushed completion of the project back a year from its original 2020 date, but Richard Zhang, managing director for Taisheng, says some investors without need of complex infrastructure can move in earlier.
“Currently I’m trying to bring in some investors whose servicing conditions are quite simple, like the LNG project,” Zhang says. “But we don’t need to wait for a better time to do promotion, we’ve already started.”
The City of Terrace has seen an increasing amount of calls inquiring about the SIDP from potential investors in the months since LNG Canada confirmed their $40 billion facility in Kitimat, located 40 minutes away.
To market the available land for new business opportunities, the city is working with Taisheng to host investor groups and promote Terrace to investors, financial institutions, business representatives, and site selectors.
Technology consulting firm WAVTEQ was hired to develop a marketing strategy for the SIDP. The City of Terrace is also one of 30 communities participating in a provincial pilot aimed at attracting entrepreneurs from all over the world.
“We want to see more industrial development, which helps us to generate revenues as a municipality,” says Danielle Myles, the city’s economic development manager.
Both the city and Taisheng say it hasn’t been difficult to convince investors of Terrace’s potential given its proximity to the growing Port of Prince Rupert, which presents an opportunity for manufacturers to easily transport goods onto Asian markets.
A transport facility to offload raw material and transport the finished product to China through Prince Rupert would also be needed once the volume of goods produced in Terrace grows.
“Our location provides business with access to the entire region. We have strong First Nations partnerships, a skilled workforce, and an abundance of land that is affordable to develop,” says Myles.
Many Chinese investors have expressed interest in Northwest B.C.’s raw forestry materials and seafood products, Zhang says. Ease of access is a major selling point.
“The transportation advantage is quite obvious in Northwest B.C. It’s a gateway between Canada and Asian countries, particularly with China,” he says.
There is also a ‘significant’ amount of natural gas available to industrial clients in the Northwest, including LNG manufacturers who see the SIDP as a strategic location, the city says.
On June 28, Pacific Northern Gas applied to the BC Utilities Commission to reactivate capacity for transport of larger volumes of LNG, which would open up the potential for a micro-facility at the SIDP.
Though the fight between Beijing and Ottawa over Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. has caused some concern over strained trade relations between the two countries. Earlier this year China put limits on Canadian canola products, with additional limits on soybeans, peas, and meat.
The City of Terrace says they are not concerned these trade bans will affect the ongoing development of the SIDP or any of their manufactured goods. Zhang agrees, and says it’s likely the political disputes will be short-lived between Canada and China.
“Canada has a lot of resources in forestry, mining, energy, gas, and oil. China has a bigger market and needs a lot of resources from other countries — Canada, of course, is one of them,” Zhang says.
“The political impact of this moment cannot be [long-term]. It could [create] negative impact in the short-term, but over the long-term? No. We are still moving our project on schedule.”