Big Crowd for Waston Island Open House


Pembina spent Wednesday talking with Rupert residents about the propane export terminal it's looking to bring to the city.

It was part of an open house put on in conjunction with the city to talk about the future of Watson Island.

The company's board of directors gave the $270-million facility the green light last week.

The terminal will be located on Watson Island and would see propane chugged in by train and then exported by ship to Asian markets

Pembina's Joel Zaleschuk says officials will start doing some engineering work in the near future.

"In concert with that, we'll be in a permitting phase and getting some required authorizations that we need from various regulatory bodies. The construction phase will start within six to eight months. We hope to be in service by 2020."

He says it was a great opportunity to use Watson Island.

"We saw the potential on Watson Island. Yes, there was some work to be done. Yes, there was some environmental damage left by the pulp mill. We saw this as an opportunity to erect a propane export terminal and help the city remove some of the contamination on Watson Island."

Pembina searched the entire west coast of North America to find a location.

He says Prince Rupert had some key pieces, including its established work force.

"Deep water port which is important for us for the marine vessels. It also has excellent rail connectivity which is through CN Rail."

Mayor Lee Brain says having Pembina's propane export terminal come to the Island signifies the days of a shuttered industrial site are over and business can start moving again. 

He says it's great to see a generation of Ruperites return considering not too long ago, there weren't a lot of opportunities to offer.

"I was in high school when the mill went down. To be 32 (years old) and to help get this thing back in order and back on the tax roll, I think it's a huge deal for this community. Especially our generation of Rupertites that are here now and all moving back and having families."

Prince Rupert says it can start discussing Watson Island in a more public setting.

Over the years, council had to discuss a lot details during closed meetings as legal cases were pending.

Mayor Lee Brain says that's about to change.

"Those legal cases are now subsiding and we're moving forward now. We're going to be able to meeting in a more public setting to talk about the process. We can also have more of a conversation with the community. This is the beginning of that."

He says residents have approached him thrilled the Island's new chapter is beginning

"To see the fact that there's a proponent that's real, that committed, that's got the investment now to be able to finally get going. It's not just a wait until I see it kind of thing."

Brain says the Island will be redeveloped in phases in order to maximize revenue from property tax and lease agreements from companies that make the Island their new home.

Mayor Brain says other companies have expressed interest in the Island.

It's also been announced the Island will be re-branded as Watson Intermodal Trade and Logistics Park, to give it a fresh start and highlight it's accessible by rail, truck, and ship.