B.C. Premier Christy Clark launched a new transportation strategy that will expand trading opportunities with Asia and help B.C. businesses grow and create jobs.

“We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to take advantage of the fastest growing economy in history,” said Premier Clark. “Asia is right at our doorstep – our ports are closer than anywhere else in North America. Our government is making sure we can get our goods to market as efficiently and quickly as possible and this strategy is a huge part of that plan.”

The new Pacific Gateway Transportation Strategy 2012-2020 will support the key elements of ‘Canada Starts Here: The BC Jobs Plan’ to expand markets for B.C. products and strengthen infrastructure to get goods to market.

“We are building on our world-class transportation network to support the growth of exports that create new jobs and opportunities in B.C.,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Blair Lekstrom. “Our vision is to make B.C. the preferred choice for Asia-Pacific trade and secure a great economic future for British Columbians.”

B.C. has great business opportunities through expanding Asian demand for coal, forest products, potash, grain, minerals, container traffic and the growth in air travel related to agrifoods, tourism and international education.

“Neptune Terminals’ strategic investments have resulted in record terminal exports of potash and steelmaking coal, a 20 per-cent in­crease in jobs at our terminal, and significant additional growth to come as we complete our expansions,” said James Belsheim, president, Neptune Bulk Terminals (Canada) Ltd. “We are encouraged by the new B.C. transportation plan, which supports our investment strategy and our ability to service our customers.”

“Teck has invested over $1 billion and hired an additional 1,000 people in B.C. over the last two years to maintain and expand our steelmaking coal, copper and zinc operations,” said Don Lindsay, president and CEO of Teck Resources Ltd. “We’re investing to meet growing demand, particularly in Asia, for the products we produce. Working with the B.C. government and the other Pacific Gateway partners, we are creating opportunities for equipment operators, trades people and pro­fessionals across the province.”

The strategy targets $25 billion in new public and private-sector investment needed to meet this demand – in addition to $22 billion already committed since 2005. This new investment will create at least 17,000 additional jobs by 2020.

The strategy will increase major road and rail capacity, rural resource transportation capacity, bulk and container terminal capacity at B.C. ports and air passenger and cargo capacity to meet projected growth through 2020.

Other objectives include the maintenance of an attractive climate for investment by supporting a reliable labour supply and marketing B.C.’s advantages to the world. In addition, the strategy aims to enhance collaboration with partners and stakeholders to integrate industrial land-use planning, and engage with communities and First Nations.