Port of Prince Rupert recently observed its fortieth anniversary as one of Canada’s most vital national harbours. It was on March 23, 1972 that the National Harbours Board assumed title to federally-owned land and water lots in Prince Rupert.
Speaking in the BC Legislature, North Coast MLA Gary Coons said “We are blessed to have one of the safest harbours in North America, with a proud track record of securely moving ships to and from the Pacific Ocean.” Mr. Coons described the genesis of the City of Prince Rupert over 100 years ago, when the first train cars arrived from Winnipeg on the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway. “This launched Prince Rupert on the path to developing as one of Canada’s most critical intermodal facilities,” said Mr. Coons.
In 1972, the harbour limits were extended and ownership of certain provincial lands, including Ridley Island, was also transferred to the National Harbours Board.
A local Port Authority was created to administer, manage and control local port affairs, and $5 million in federal funds were earmarked for terminal development, which eventually led to the construction of the Fairview Terminal. The facility opened in 1977 as a general cargo shipping facility.
Today, Prince Rupert Port Authority administers over 1,000 hectares of waterfront land, plus the 14,000-hectare harbour, with annual operating revenues of over $26 million.
The Fairview Terminal was converted in 2007 into a container shipping facility, joining Ridley Terminals and Prince Rupert Grain, both constructed in the early 1980s, in contributing to rapid growth of shipping volumes at the port. Over 19 million tonnes of cargo were shipped through Prince Rupert in 2011, compared to 1.9 million tonnes in 1978.
“The growth that has taken place during the last forty years is extraordinary,” said Don Krusel, who is marking two decades as President and CEO of the Port Authority. “Port of Prince Rupert possesses many natural advantages – the deepest natural harbour in North America, the closest international shipping terminals to Asia. But our success is mainly due to the visionaries, leaders, and workers who have realized the potential of this port.”