Aboard an Alaska Marine Highway System ferry. (Courtesy Photo | Vivian Faith Prescott)

Prince Rupert’s ferry issue is a North Coast issue says MLA

Prince Rupert not alone in fight to save ferry to Ketchikan: Alaskan Rep. Ortiz

Mayor Lee Brain and the City of Prince Rupert are not alone in their fight to save the Alaska ferry service from Ketchikan.

Although the problems involving the Alaska ferry closure involves discussions with the city and the federal government, North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice is paying close attention to the issue saying the matter is multi-jurisdictional and involves a range of government departments.

“The recent decision to cease operations of the Alaska marine ferry system into Prince Rupert will negatively impact the tourism economy not just locally but throughout the region. The impacts will also be felt for North Coast families as many have community connections to Southeast Alaska,” Rice said.

Approximately 13,000 passengers travel the route from Prince Rupert to Ketchikan annually, the majority of which occurs during the summer. Rice said the majority of these visitors spend significant time in B.C. as they travel from the lower 48 states through B.C. up to Prince Rupert to board the Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS).

The AMHS announced on Sept. 10 that service between the two cities will be officially closed as of Oct. 1. The reason for the closure is due to a failure to secure an armed RCMP presence to protect American personnel during inspections in Canada.

Budget cuts to the AMHS and jurisdiction issues regarding structural upgrades needed for the AMHS dock in Prince Rupert are also problems impacting the route.

READ MORE: This is not the end of Alaska ferry in Prince Rupert: Cullen and Brain

Alaskan representative in Prince Rupert to discuss solutions

Last weekend, Rice met with B.C.’s Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Lisa Beare, who was in Prince Rupert to meet with tourism stakeholders. Part of their discussions included the importance of the Alaska Marine Highway System to the sector.

Rice also met with Rep. Dan Ortiz, an independent member of the Alaska House of Representatives, this week to discuss solutions.

“We both share a community by the same name – Metlakatla. These First Nation communities are culturally related and only separated by U.S. and Canadian borders. The Alaska Ferry service is also important for maintaining family and cultural connections between these communities,” she said.

In regards to the RCMP issue, Rice said that the provincial government cannot direct police operational decisions.

Ortiz came to Prince Rupert this week to meet with officials from the RCMP, North Coast MLA Rice, Mayor Brain and chief fiancial officer Corinne Bomben, to discuss solutions to restoring service and said countless people in Alaska will be effected in terms of impact.

READ MORE: This is not the end of Alaska ferry in Prince Rupert: Cullen and Brain

“If Alaska cannot maintain service to Prince Rupert it will have an impact not only on tourism but also the business community and the ability for fish to be shipped to the closest direct transportation line.”

Ortiz said the projected growth of Prince Rupert is vital to commerce for Southeast Alaska and that they frequently use Rupert’s line to the CN Rail.

Individuals from Ketchikan will now have to sail down to Bellingham, Washington — a 36 hour ride as opposed to a six hour ride — costing individual riders three times the monetary amount than travelling to Rupert, according to Ortiz.

Ortiz said he received countless letter from individuals regarding their desire to save the highway. In addition, the mayor of Ketchikan, Chamber of Commerce in Ketchikan and mayor of Wrangell have all sent letters to the representative.

Ortiz sat down with Brain on Friday afternoon and said the mayor will be presenting very viable options for the State of Alaska to pursue come their meeting in Juneau on Sept. 16.

“I can say that I am very heartened from the response by all the government officials while down here in Prince Rupert. Everyone on the Canadian side is interested and concerned in maintaining it’s [AMHS] routes in Prince Rupert,” Ortiz said.

READ MORE: Ferry schedules cost an Alaskan team a spot in the All Native Basketball Tournament


Jenna Cocullo | Journalist
Jenna Cocullo 
Send Jenna email
Like the The Northern View on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

B.C. offers early retirement, training fund for forest workers

Communities eligible for $100,000 for permanent closures

First Nations given max compensation for Ottawa’s child-welfare discrimination

2016 ruling said feds didn’t give same funding for on-reserve kids as was given to off-reserve kids

Power restored to 120,000 customers after northern B.C. transmission failure

Lightning is suspected to be the cause of the outage, says BC Hydro

Three people wanted on warrants

Terrace RCMP asking for public’s help

Belgian man linked as possible missing kayaker in Nass River

Family pleads on Facebook for more information

‘I shouldn’t have done it,’ Trudeau says of brownface photo

Trudeau says he also wore makeup while performing a version of a Harry Belafonte song

35 of 87 dogs in 2018 Williams Lake seizure were euthanized due to behavioural issues, BCSPCA confirm

The dogs did not respond to the behaviour modification and remained terrified of humans

B.C. ‘tent city’ disputes spark call for local government autonomy

UBCM backs Maple Ridge after province overrules city

B.C. drug dealers arrested after traffic stop near Banff turns into helicopter pursuit

Antonio Nolasco-Padia, 23, and Dina Anthony, 55, both well-known to Chilliwack law enforcement

B.C. MLA calls on province to restrict vaping as first related illness appears in Canada

Todd Stone, Liberal MLA for Kamloops-South Thompson, introduced an anti-vaping bill in April

Chilliwack woman wins right to medically assisted death after three-year court battle

Julia Lamb has been the lead plaintiff in a legal battle to ease restrictions on Canada’s assisted dying laws

B.C. bus crash survivor petitions feds to fix road where classmates died

UVic student’s petition well over halfway to 5k signature goal

Most Read