Aerial view of Kaien Island at the Port of Prince Rupert
Aerial view of Kaien Island at the Port of Prince Rupert

The conversion of the port’s original breakbulk facility, Fairview Terminal, into a major container terminal in 2007 resulted in the loss of some of Prince Rupert’s breakbulk and general cargo. The deepwater port in northern British Columbia has subsequently emerged as arguably the fast-growing container port in North America, capturing mounting Asian trade with the West Coast.
But Port President and CEO Don Krusel, who has steered a long lackluster, remote bulk-focused port into the bigger leagues, wants to recapture some of the lost breakbulk business. And to this end, a feasibility assessment agreement was signed with SSA Marine and its subsidiary, Western Stevedoring, to explore the viability of breakbulk and bulk terminal located on Kaien Island.

“Ongoing cargo diversification is one of the highest priorities for the Port of Prince Rupert, and the potential for the return of breakbulk and general cargoes capacity represents a clear response to growing market demand in Western Canada,” Krusel stated.

In a recent speech to the Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce, Krusel indicated that not only will Fairview terminal’s capacity continue to grow (to 1.3 million TEU by the end of this year and eventually to 2.5 million TEU), but some C$500 million in capital expenditures are planned over the next 10 years. The goal would be to dramatically boost throughput to 100 million metric tons versus a present 20 million tons.

The south shore of Kaien Island has been identified as a suitable location for an 80-hectare terminal that would lie adjacent to the CN mainline serving markets in Canada and the US Midwest. It would also be close to existing bulk terminals on Ridley Island.

As well as offering increased diversity, port officials say the new terminal will provide additional capacity for project cargo, steel, forest products, automobiles and bulk cargoes. It forms an integral part of the port’s Gateway 2020 blueprint.

Among project forwarding circles, Jan-Ludwig Beringer, president of Calgary-based Roli-Projects, has welcomed the proposed new terminal concept. In an interview with the American Journal of Transportation, he remarked: “The attractiveness of Prince Rupert as the North American west coast port closest to Asia and with good highway links to BC and Alberta, is still negatively impacted by the lack of any direct breakbulk-handling capability.”

Beringer said, project cargoes are mainly discharged from ocean ships at anchor in the channel onto barges and ferried to a shallow-water breakbulk transfer station at Prince Rupert harbor.