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REPORTING · 17th July 2012
Merv Ritchie
Secrets are necessary. Sometimes investment plans must be kept confidential as a leaked detail might provide a speculator the opportunity to buy up property in order to profit from a government supported project. At other times behind closed doors discussions are held to prevent the public from learning information they rightly deserve to know

The Federal Government has provided almost 700 thousand dollars to construct a new highway interchange just south of the Northwest Regional Airport. With this commitment the Province of BC also delivered an equal amount. The City agreed to also donate $668,000. All of this for an Industrial Park without a single user; not a single prepared road or water/sewer infrastructure. The only visible infrastructure (besides the new highway on and off lanes) is piles of forest debris from clearing the site along with the debris from October 10, 2010 wind storm.

“There are still [industrial] ghost towns in the making all over North America” stated Roger Brooks as he addressed the Terrace business/industrial crowd and councillors at the Skeena Summit in 2009. His specific point was how preparing for industrial activity was almost a pointless exercise.

After emailing and requesting a response from most of the current Terrace City Councillors, none were able to answer the question regarding what the plans are. Most referred to any potential use of the site would have been discussed in-camera, such that they could not discuss it publically.

Mayor David Pernarowski stated they had a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with an undisclosed company. This entity has secured 46.5 hectares of land and part of this undisclosed arrangement is the requirement the City continues to develop the site. Hence the Highway interchanges. This secured land is almost half of the currently cleared property at the site. The City has stated the Industrial Park currently has 300 acres of developed land. One must assume this means the cleared land as there is no other infrastructure. This amounts to just over 100 hectares.

In January 2010 Mayor Pernarowski delivered a presentation prepared by Janine North of the Northern Development Trust Initiative (NDI) to the BC NDP and the BC Liberals in Victoria. This presentation detailed a desire for Terrace to secure a new Federal Prison to be located at the new Industrial Park near the Airport. This was new to all the City Councillors and was never a part of any previously discussed set of council initiatives.

The amount of land revealed as being set aside by the undisclosed MOU, 46.5 hectares is the correct amount of land for a Prison complex. In 2010 the footprint was discussed as only requiring 20 hectares yet most prisons require much more land. It depends on how much land is secured outside of the prison walls; 60 hectares is not an unusual amount of land for a medium sized prison.

Just as nothing was said about the concept of a prison before NDI provided the speaking notes for the Mayor of Terrace in 2010, nothing is being said today about why the two higher levels of government have agreed to provide over $1.337 million in infrastructure funds for a project with no declared use when the City has had to raise taxes and cannot find funds for infrastructure projects desperately needed for the citizens of Terrace.

When asked directly the Mayor stated, “I can confirm we are not discussing anything to do with a federal or provincial prison,” yet there is no indication of why $2 million of tax payers money has been directed to this project.

Councillor Davies states there have been site visits but nothing confirmed though suggests having a site prepared would be better for a potential investor than just a treed lot. Councillors Cordeiro and Tyers stated anything they know would be in-camera and wouldn’t be able to discuss it.

Prior to the Mayors visit to Victoria and receiving the presentation prepared for him from NDI, even he didn’t know about the prison proposal. The Councillors were even more surprised than he.

We have been told there is a news release being prepared on the subject of the Airport Industrial Park Lands. During the previous 5 years we have reported on numerous proposals and deals to bring industrial development to Terrace, none of which came to fruition. We suspect a $2 million investment should not go to waste. After all the Federal Conservative government purports to be fiscally responsible and tough on crime, instituting new minimum jail terms. These new inmates along with the throng of potential arrested protesters, if construction of the Enbridge Northern Gateway project proceeds, will need a place to be housed.

And the proposed new incarceration facility might not be a government federal prison. The latest manner to house citizens who have contravened the law is in privately owned and operated detention facilities. The mayor may have been entirely accurate in his statement, “I can confirm we are not discussing anything to do with a federal or provincial prison.”

Terrace Prison feasibility study can be found here

And Private Prisons are currently a hot topic. Read about Americans coming north here.
Is it possible ?
Comment by Apocalypse Now on 13th August 2012
Is it possible there is not a peep on whats going on at the site because it may be one of those dreaded tax free havens,where companies can set up sweat shops and have duty free goods assembled ? Perfect location for it don't you think?
Liebral coaching
Comment by Catherine on 18th July 2012
Gee, is anyone else wondering if Dave Pernarowski
is taking lessons from BC Liebrals? No, we're not going to sell BC Rail, no - the HST is not on the radar, no - we're not trying to bankrupt BC Hydro....hmmmmmmm
corrupt oligarchs & elitists vs hard working honest people
Comment by Catherine on 18th July 2012
"Thus, we may properly understand the impetus of the government to increase spending on police, the military, “public safety” (national security/police state) and prisons: as typical state responses to social crises, throw money at the systems, structures and institutions of oppression so that when the people begin to rise up, the state may have the force available to push them down, oppress them, and imprison them."
Hosting a federal prison:
Comment by Janice Robinson on 18th July 2012
Inviting the possibility of hosting a federal prison, in Tsimshian Territory, is a darn good idea! It would be a project that all of us can partake in (no matter our colour), and would greatly contibute to the economic wealth and stability of the whole region.

I hope this article is not just "hot air...."
Think about it, fellow Terracites!
If nothing else....
Comment by Apocalypse Now on 17th July 2012
It may end up as a carrot before the next provincial election.This will be when they tell everyone where our hard earned money went.
It’s not that we do not believe you David.
Comment by Merv Ritchie on 17th July 2012
On Friday last, Pat Bell and Rio Tinto Alcan created a firestorm of excitement regarding the shut down of the Kemano site. We wrote about what Pat Bell told us and also what Robin Austin told us. We do not believe everything we wrote. We just reported.

Everyone should take a moment to recall when Eurocan shut down. Pat Bell assisted, as did NDI in raising money for a feasibility study for Kitimat and the Union to purchase the site and reopen it.

Pat Bell was well aware (and likely so was NDI) the Haisla had vetoed the concept long before. They just led all the local politicians along in deceit and deception. Months earlier they could have been honest.

Today RTA and Bell have you and yours rushing to provide letters of support for RTA. It is a game for fools, and the local politicians are being played just as are the residents. The BC Liberals and the Alcan team have always been partners. Do not believe for a moment there is not a purpose for this joint action by these players. It couldn’t have something to do with setting up a dire situation where RTA would find themselves in a situation (not of their making of course) where they will have to lock out the workers due to the BC Governments actions. Or could it?

I’m sorry to say this, but I do not think you are being completely and fully informed.

In our role as media, we are expected to dig up the unexpected. Please do not be offended. There is a lot of dirt under a lot of rocks we turn over.

Just like the Rangers and Canadian military exercise that coincided with the beginning of the JRP hearings in Kitimat in August/September 2010, no one knew until we exposed it. Then the Canadian forces quickly sent out a Warrant Officer to contact the media to do damage control. It was not supposed to be public knowledge. I was contacted by our most senior law enforcement official who explained to me the consternation this revelation caused in Ottawa.

Sometimes we get things wrong, to be sure, but we must do what our job is to do, dig, dig, dig, and expose when we can.

Maybe one day we will all learn where NDI gets their instructions too. Yes you are on the board, but it has always been, since the time of Rome, the administration who holds all the cards.

How would you or any local government hack know what the feds are planning? They didn’t object to this access construction did they? Could have it been applied to more diking for Terrace? How about sidewalks? Would the Feds have allowed that? What about finishing the Millennium trail?

We already have Industrial land, fully serviced, at a rail siding, in the center of town with no takers. Just asking the appropriate questions without reservations.

We appreciate your feedback. It helps everyone gain perspective.
We are not building a prison of any kind...
Comment by Dave Pernarowski on 17th July 2012
To answer your question again, I can confirm we are not building the highway interchange to the Skeena Industrial Development Park for a federal or provincial prison. I can also confirm we are not building this road infrastructure "to house citizens who have contravened the law...in privately owned and operated detention facilities."

The feasibility study that was completed last year was to determine the logistics of locating a federal penitentiary in a northern location. There has been no further action on this file.

The City of Terrace remains committed to moving forward with the industrial park development. Creating infrastructure is an important component within our strategy to draw industrial opportunities, jobs, and a more diversified economy and tax base to the region. Leveraging $600,000 into $1.8 million through the federal government Build Canada Infrastructure grant program is in itself creating jobs and money being spent in our local economy.

I am very proud that this Council is dedicated to taking a proactive approach with the industrial park initiative so that we can take action on the opportunities that are coming our way. When these opportunities hit, the City of Terrace will be ready.