Kitimat port questions get some clarification

Some questions remain but some elaboration given on what a public port will look like in Kitimat.

The province is leading a working group to look at how port governance will work in Kitimat and Kitimat’s Chief Administrative Officer Ron Poole says they are getting some clarification on the ‘public port’ designation.

The federal government announced in March plans to convert Kitimat into a public port, but little details followed that announcement, leaving mostly confusion.

But Poole, who attended a meeting of this working group last month, explained the intent seems to be to have control over ships moving on the water using the Canadian Shipping Act and the Marine Act.

So in short, the government wants to ensure ships moving on the waters meet certain conditions, but they’re not going to be influencing what happens at the specific ports, like Rio Tinto Alcan’s.

“In other words, the designation was made in concern of safety of the harbour but has nothing to do with management or ownership of the port because that basically falls on provincial, private and municipal jurisdiction,” said Poole.

Poole did add though that how the ships are monitored could potentially mean the creation of a public port authority board, but it wasn’t clear if that would be the case.

“How we operate it is still up in the air, we haven’t come up with that model,” he said.

The impetus behind these changes is the anticipated shipping of a number of dangerous materials on the water, from liquefied natural gas to potentially oil from Alberta.