The Port of Prince Rupert trade & learning gateway supports the increased demand for effective logistics solutions. Total West Coast container traffic reached 24.7 million TEU’s in 2014, finally recovering to the peak levels achieved in 2006 and 2007. In response to these growth opportunities Maher Terminals Holding Corp., the operator of the Port of Prince Rupert’s Fairview Container Terminal, announced on March 10, 2015, their decision to proceed with the expansion of the 7-year-old facility, increasing its container capacity by 500,000 TEUs. The terminal expansion will see capacity rise to over 1.3m TEUs annually. It is scheduled for completion in mid-2017. This infrastructure investment will enhance the Canadian gateway’s growing role in North American trans-Pacific trade.

Subsequently, DP World Limited announced its agreement to acquire Maher Terminal’s Fairview Container Terminal (Fairview) in Prince Rupert, British Columbia, Canada from Deutsche Bank on April 2nd. In announcing the deal, DP World indicated that their purchase will provide significant benefits to Canada, including to the Province of British Columbia, to the City of Prince Rupert, to First Nations communities, and to importers, exporters, and consumers. These benefits include:

– Implementation of the Phase 2 expansion will increase the capacity and efficiency of Canada’s Asia-Pacific Gateway and Corridor.  The development is projected to create more than one-half million hours of construction work and more than 500 FTE jobs; and

– The undertaking of a feasibility assessment about the development of the lands that are intended for further expansion. This expansion could potentially increase the capacity to 2.45 million TEU.

New gateway infrastructure investment is not the only contribution being made by the maritime transport community. In the interests of building social capital and capacity, the Prince Rupert Port Authority (PRPA) made a decision to engage school age children in learning about the activities and opportunities associated with a busy international port. They did this by developing the “Port of Prince Rupert Learning Gateway” – an interactive, online education resource that offers curriculum-linked lesson plans on a range of themes and topics related to trade and shipping for educators and learners across the K-12 spectrum.

According to the Learning Gateway web site’s “About Us” page, the project arose out of the PRPA’s recognition that the Port of Prince Rupert’s future success relies on the interest, understanding, and engagement of those who live closest to it and along the trade corridor. The educational materials are intended to teach students in the region about the Port, its role in Canada’s expanding trade with the countries of the Pacific Rim, and the diverse work and career opportunities that it provides. The Learning Gateway is the result of extensive collaboration between the PRPA, local educators, and a team of educational, web design and marine transportation experts led by BC-based InsideOut Policy Research.

The Port of Prince Rupert trade & learning gateway has a colourful and user-friendly website and is rich in resources. It houses lesson plans that are grouped according to four themes: Work and Home, Trade, Environment and Transportation. Each lesson plan is supported by a wealth of textual, visual, and web-based materials. Particularly striking – and engaging – are the numerous photographs (which, according to the site’s “Contributors” page have been provided by a broad range of industry stakeholders). These images effectively convey all aspects of port and shipping activity – from breathtaking photographs of loaded container ships and towering gantry cranes to candid shots of the longshore workers, pilots and logistics professionals who work at the Port.

Transportation service providers and shippers are increasingly faced with the challenge of how to increase trade capacity and balance the competing claims of stakeholders, indeed when it comes to transportation infrastructure development. Stakeholder relation efforts are focused on individuals of a voting age or those that have an interest in the environmental or economic outcomes. However, the Prince Rupert Learning Gateway highlights the fact that investment in human capacity is also a requirement for long-term sustainable success. The Port of Prince Rupert trade & learning gateway educational approach serves to demonstrate that such creative efforts can complement traditional stakeholder engagement efforts.