Ashcroft Terminal could be a boon for North Thompson economic development

As The Mayor Sees It with District of Barriere Mayor Bill Humphreys

Over the past few weeks in my role as chair of the Thompson Nicola Regional District (TNRD) I have been attending information meetings in a number of communities throughout the regional district. One of these was the opening of the inland port in Ashcroft.

The Ashcroft Terminal is a private inland transloading, container storage and distribution centre and is a member of the Canadian Government’s Asian Pacific Corridor Initiative (APGCI). On Oct. 11, 2006, Prime Minister Harper announced the APGCI with an initial investment of $5-million in federal funding.

As a result of this investment opportunity, Ashcroft Terminal was able to realize their vision of an inland port.

The terminal contains 8.7 km of rail track serviced directly off of CPR and CN mainlines, and is serviced daily by CPR. Facilities include a 350,000 sq. ft. covered warehouse, manufacturing capacity, container capacity, 600 railcar storage spots and 20 km of internal storage and marshaling tracks.

What this all means to Barriere is that within easy reach there is now a facility able to provide a method of shipping by rail and then by sea if needed, countless loads of goods without the hassle of sending trucks into the Delta Port Terminal.

By loading the goods in Ashcroft it is estimated that at least 500,000 truck trips per year on our highways and through Delta will be avoided. By scheduling delivery of rail cars to the port there will be less wait time and fewer costs to the users of the terminals.

This equates to a greater return on investments and sustainability of the various manufacturing companies and industrial entities here in the Interior of B.C.

In order to attract investors to Barriere,  one of the problems that needed to be solved was the lack of a viable shipping plan for their goods. The Ashcroft Terminal provides a possible solution to this problem.

Now we are able to provide known costs that can be used to calculate the viability of a future project wanting to locate here in our community.

We all know that there is limited power here in the North Thompson Valley and that it is not entirely reliable. My apologies to the hard working folks at BC Hydro, but that is the case.

Barriere also has no access to natural gas, which is another problem in itself when trying to attract investors.

As a result, over the past while, we have been exploring alternative solutions to these problems. One such alternative solution is to use bio fuel to generate both power and heat.

At this point in time, it is unclear as to the best way to structure this solution as there are a number of choices. One might be to have the required infrastructure created by a public/private partnership. This would require a number of grants from other orders of government.

Another would be that a private company would build and operate the facility. No matter how this is structured once completed it will provide the missing pieces of the puzzle and make it possible to attract investors to our area.

I was honoured once again to be asked to attend the Barriere Secondary Graduation ceremonies.

The event was held at the Barriere Curling Rink and was very well attended. There were over 30 graduates this year and they have already made their collective mark on the world. They boast champions in everything from barrel racing to golf, in addition to some impressive scholastic achievements.

Over the years I have attended a number of graduation ceremonies, and overall Barriere Secondary gets the nod for being well run and welcoming. Principal Ken Rife and his staff do a great job of making the evening memorable for the graduates and their families.

Principal Rife took the time to mention each graduate, and to say a few words about each of them. It is that sort of caring gesture that makes for good memories.

Best of luck and congratulations to all the 2014 graduates. You are our future and I truly hope you will see your way to continuing to make your home here in the valley, or at least finding your way back at some point in your lives.