LETTER: PATH will lead to opportunity

Byron Horner is the Conservative candidate for Courtenay-Alberni

To the Editor,

A Port Alberni Transhipment Hub (PATH) would create jobs for the Alberni Valley, reduce transportation costs from the Island and reduce congestion and pollution in the Salish Sea and on our roads and ports.

Port Alberni’s natural deep sea port has no obstacles, no riptides, lots of waterfront to build a transhipment hub with ample land for waterfront redevelopment and community amenities.

Based on my experience in the shipping industry, the economics of PATH seem compelling for shippers; 4-7 days of time savings and reduced landing/waiting fees vs lower mainland ports and a skilled but underemployed workforce.

PATH would unload large containerships and barge up to 500 containers per barge to selected points in the Lower Mainland and Pacific North West. Export and empty containers would be barged back to PATH for the return trip to Asia. The more barges coming back and forth from PATH – the cheaper the freight costs for agricultural, manufacturing and resource products from the Island.

Although billions in trade growth is expected following Canada’s recent ratification of the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership, Vancouver ports are at capacity with little room to grow given urban gridlock and land-use conflicts. PATH has the land to grow and community, First Nations and ILWU support.

To bring people and prosperity back to the Alberni Valley requires short-term strategies to support local business, community amenities (new aquatic centre) and bold, ambitious medium-term initiatives like PATH that could align private and public investment and involve a partnership with the city, port, First Nations and the federal and provincial governments.

If elected MP for Courtenay-Alberni – I will work to have PAPA designated a Pacific Gateway Port and will seek funding towards a full feasibility study for PATH and a new aquatic centre for Port Alberni.

There is a huge opportunity for Canada to grow trade with Asia. In 2017, the ports of Vancouver and Prince Rupert shipped a combined 166 million tonnes of cargo, including 4.2 million TEUs of containers, worth about $235 billion.

The DP World Fairview container port in the Port of Prince Rupert is a shining example. The value of trade flowing through Prince Rupert is now the third largest in Canada. In the last 10 years, over a billion dollars of private-sector investment has flowed into four new terminal developments. Cargo volumes have grown by 450 per cent, including a record 24 million tonnes in 2017. DP World’s Fairview Container Terminal recently expanded its capacity to be the second-largest container terminal in Canada and the fastest-growing container terminal in North America. DP World is actively advancing another container-terminal expansion, with plans to add another 1.4 million TEUs and reach 2.7 million TEUs of capacity by 2025.

Byron Horner,

Conservative candidate,

Courtenay-Alberni

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