Clark touts Gateway strategy at NV port visit

PREMIER Christy Clark was at North Vancouver's Neptune Bulk Terminals Monday morning to talk about her government's Pacific Gateway Transportation Strategy 2012-2020.

"We have a once-in-a generation opportunity to take advantage of the fastest growing economy in history," Clark said. "Asia is right at our doorstep - our ports are closer than anywhere else in North America. Our government is making sure we can get our goods to market as efficiently and quickly as possible and this strategy is a huge part of that plan."

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Although described in government releases as an aspect of Clark's signature "Canada Starts Here" jobs plan, the $25-billion strategy is largely a continuation of the nine-year-old provincial Gateway Program and the federal Asia-Pacific Gateway Initiative. Most of the strategy's spending is made up of previously announced private investment in gas pipeline and port infrastructure.

"Neptune Terminals' strategic investments have resulted in record terminal exports of potash and steelmaking coal, a 20 per cent increase in jobs at our terminal, and significant additional growth to come as we complete our expansions," said James Belsheim, president of Neptune.

The terminal has seen a dramatic rise in demand for coal and potash in Asian markets and is investing tens of millions of dollars to upgrade its capacity.

"We are encouraged by the new B.C. transportation plan, which supports our investment strategy and our ability to service our customers," he said.

In new spending, Clark did announce plans to fork out $700 million over the next five years to increase capacity on unspecified provincial highways.

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