Fast & Curious: Short Takes on Random Things

Prince Rupert

CBC Cape Breton’s Information Morning had a very interesting interview with Herb Pond, mayor of Prince Rupert, British Columbia for two terms during which time the city’s struggling break-bulk port was developed into a successful container terminal, handling more than 600,000 containers a year and employing more than 3,000 people.

Prince Rupert, BC (Photo by Sam Beebe/Ecotrust [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons)

Prince Rupert, BC (Photo by Sam Beebe/Ecotrust CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Prince Rupert is the example our own port promoters always point to when arguing that being in the middle of nowhere is no barrier to becoming a successful port. And certainly, to hear Pond tell it, Prince Rupert’s distance from major population centers is an advantage, allowing for speedy thru-put — containers are taken off ships, loaded onto trains and sent on their way to destinations as far away as Chicago post-haste.

But what really leapt out at me during the interviews were the differences between Sydney and Prince Rupert.

1. Governance model

Prince Rupert has a port authority:

The Prince Rupert Port Authority is a local port authority constituted under the Canada Marine Act, and Letters Patent issued under the Act, to operate the Port in the Prince Rupert Harbour. We are an autonomous and commercially viable agency, governed by an independent Board of Directors with full control over all Port decisions, with a mandate to facilitate and expand the movement of cargo and passengers through the Port of Prince Rupert.

The Port Authority is responsible for the overall planning, development, marketing and management of the commercial port facilities within Prince Rupert Harbour. This includes ensuring competitive, efficient and timely responses to customer needs and business opportunities. It also means ensuring we facilitate these opportunties [sic] in in a manner that is safe, responsible, and sustainable.

Sydney has the Port of Sydney Development Corporation which no longer has responsibility for the container terminal site.

2. Government funding

Federal and provincial government funding was key to Prince Rupert’s success. Pond told Information Morning’s Steve Sutherland that the two levels of government committed about $60 million towards construction of the terminal. That kind of government support was no doubt helpful in attracting a terminal operator and convincing CN to make its own “significant investment” (including enlarging tunnels to accommodate double-stacked trains) in the project.

Moreover, the work to secure that funding, attract a terminal operator and convince CN to upgrade its tracks was done not by hired port promoters but by the Port Authority itself.

3. Speedy Thru-put

Pond said Prince Rupert’s relative isolation meant trains entering and leaving the port do not have to wend their way through a congested downtown. What he didn’t say was that the lack of surrounding development allowed for plenty of lay-down space. In fact, he described Prince Rupert’s 59-acre Fairview terminal as a “high-velocity” terminal. Incoming goods, he said, are “distributed fairly quickly” across Canada and into the United States.


Keeping Secrets

It finally happened: the Cape Breton Post got up in arms about a lack of transparency in a local institution!

RANT: For poor communication. When professional sports teams want to share information with the mainstream media they normally start by sending out news releases. This includes trades, new hires, signings, cuts, season ticket info and so on. In the case of the Cape Breton Highlanders, however, it doesn’t apply for some things, including this week’s axing of the coach they hired less than two months ago. Nope, Dean Murray’s axing was posted on Facebook on Sunday, less than 24 hours after a heartbreaking overtime loss to the Halifax Hurricanes. Can you say air ball? Memo to the Highlanders: Try sending releases to our sports email. Every other major sports group in Cape Breton does. It was also odd that the Highlanders didn’t hold a news conference to announce their new coach and to answer some potentially awkward questions about Murray’s dismissal. Hey, it comes with the territory. Murray isn’t talking either, informing the Post that he will give a “full account” of his time with the Highlanders when it is “appropriate to speak.” Doesn’t sound like an amicable parting of the ways to us.

Yeah! The problem in the CBRM is that the SPORTS TEAMS aren’t transparent enough.




While I’m picking on the Post, let me quote another choice “Rant” from that same edition of the paper (30 January 2017):Apartment for rent sign

RANT: For disgusting tenants. Rental horror stories work both ways, from slum landlords to the tenants from hell. Friday’s story in the Post (‘What a mess’) revealed details about a tenant who left a previously immaculate house looking like a pigsty and owing nearly $4,000 in back rent. A Glace Bay landlord shared a similar story last month. Of course, good tenants far outweigh the bad, but there are some who need to be screened carefully. Very carefully.

Rental horror stories work both ways, good tenants far outweigh the bad but we chose to focus on the “disgusting” tenants because… shut up.

Having been a tenant most of my adult life, I’ve experienced some choice landlord behavior (renovating the basement apartment and running the power tools on my bill? Check. Trying to make me charge guests for their hot water use? You bet.) As a result, I find myself waiting in anxious anticipation of the two landlord horror stories the Post will surely publish to keep things, as the Mayor’s spokesperson likes to say, “fair and balanced.”




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