Port of Victoria is major asset to community
Editor, the Advocate:
Several years ago, I wrote a letter to the editor in which I questioned the need for the continuation of the small tax we pay to support the Port of Victoria. I based this on a too brief conversation with a knowledgeable person and my own assumption that the port was built, and revenue from users would support the operation. I was wrong.
Recently, I had an opportunity to tour the port. The board overseeing the operations of the port has understood the current needs but more importantly had the vision to see what would be needed. The first example I would offer is that of rail.
The board made the decision to construct rail into the port. It was eight years before the first trains used it, but it was ready when customers needed it. Currently, a second liquids dock is under construction, and a third is being considered. Is this important? Yes, given the millions of barrels of oil being shipped from our port. . With more to come, we must have the capacity to load the barges quickly and safely.
A container dock is being constructed currently. This will allow the shipment of containers (think tractor-trailers) via barges, the most economical way to move them, with the added benefit that traffic will be reduced on our highways.
The board uses our tax money as one way to leverage the capital to build new and improve existing facilities. The board also partners with businesses to construct facilities the businesses will use. The business fronts the investment and then receives a preferential rate for a stipulated period of time to recoup their investment, after which the improvements become port property.
Our port is a tremendous asset in recruitment of new and expanded business and support of existing businesses. Our small tax bite pays dividends throughout the community in terms of jobs and a healthy economy.
Was I mistaken in my earlier letter? Absolutely. Do I mind admitting it? No. I am always happy to see public monies spent well for the benefit of the taxpayers. The Port of Victoria is a case in point.
James B. Stewart, Victoria