Terrace | BCBusiness
Terrace is the service hub of B.C.’s northwest—and Ground Zero for the region’s hoped-for liquefied natural gas boom
To look at our list of Best Cities for Work in B.C., you might think that Terrace is in an unenviable spot. And yet, if all the projections for natural gas riches are true, there is nowhere to go but up—potentially way, way up.
The northwestern hub of some 16,000 residents is literally at the crossroads of the expected action, with Prince Rupert, one of the major centres for likely LNG terminals, 144 kilometres west on Highway 16 and Kitimat, the other major centre, 62 kilometres south on Highway 37. According to the B.C. government, an estimated 100,000 jobs could be created by the LNG industry.
Even before any final investment decisions on LNG are made, Terrace business owners like Janice Shaben are starting to feel the ground shift. “What we’re finding is that there are a lot of new companies coming to town that we’ve never heard of,” says the co-owner (with husband Gord) of Silvertip Promotions and Signs. Silvertip operates two distinct businesses: the promotional division produces branded products like T-shirts, jackets and coffee mugs, while the signage division “logos” vehicles, storefronts, awnings and banners. Shaben says she’s had to double her staff, to 10, within the past couple of years and is expanding the sign shop into the local Bay next door.
A good chunk of today’s economic activity is tied into the massive Alcan modernization project in Kitimat, expected to wrap up this year. That $3.3-billion project has brought hundreds of well-paid workers into the region who are buying up houses, trucks and restaurant meals. Shaben, also president of the local chamber of commerce, says that while some retailers are complaining they’re not yet feeling the impact, she thinks she knows why: “The reason is that they’re a bit specialized, maybe targeted more to females. We don’t really have the families moving up here yet. But that will come.”
Going forward, the challenge will be keeping the skilled tradespeople from the Alcan project in the region. “There’s going to be a bit of lull between when that project ends and the LNG projects begin,” says Shaben. As part of an effort to diversify its economy, Terrace has also recently built the Skeena Industrial Development Park; a deal with a Chinese company to bring an alfalfa protein extraction facility—and some 170 skilled jobs—to the site was expected to close by the end of 2014.
“Back when I was a kid, we were a logging town—that’s all we were,” says Shaben, a Terrace resident since 1967. “We had beehive burners right in the middle of town. You’d constantly have to dust because you’d open the doors and all the soot would come in. Things sure have changed.”
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