Port’s barge report made public

  • Apr. 10, 2013 4:00 p.m.

A report that examines the business case for building a barge terminal in Port Clements has been released to the public, and the village council is now planning a town hall meeting to discuss its recommendations. Council members discussed the report briefly when they met April 2, but decided to wait for the return of two absent councillors before setting a date for the public meeting. The 55-page long study was written by KPMG and cost about $74,000. Available on the village’s website, it looks into the costs, benefits and risks of building a publicly-owned barge terminal and operating a publicly-owned barge. Among its findings are that it would cost an estimated $8.4 million to build a barge terminal in Port Clements and $3 million to acquire a suitable barge. As long as these capital costs were covered by grants, the barge and terminal could be operated at a cost competitive with the existing log barge service to Prince Rupert. The proposed terminal would be capable of receiving and shipping containerized cargo, which could mean lower transportation costs and greater opportunities for the logging industry to ship containerized cargo. The project might encourage economic development in other industries here, and could also reduce the cost of living for local residents, the report says. The main risks, according to the report, are the volatility of the forest industry, and the fact that the local forestry companies must use the facility and ship enough volume to keep it financial feasible. “Without this acceptance and participation, the terminal and barge system would not be utilized above a break-even level and would require on-going operating subsidies,” the report says.