Saturday, July 12, 2008

Province provides a share of money for Alaska Ferry Dock repairs

Kevin Falcon passed through town to speak well of the container port, deliver some kind words of praise for Herb Pond and then to drop off a 350,000 dollar contribution to the Alaska Ferry dock.

As we reviewed on our Podunkian Portal, it was a mere drop in the infrastructure bucket as the Transportation Minister travelled further down the highway bearing glad tidings and cash.

The Daily News had details of his Prince Rupert stop in Thursday's paper.

Province helps pay for Alaska ferry dock repairs
The Daily News
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Pages one and three

The Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure was in Prince Rupert yesterday to announce provincial funding for the Alaska Marine Highway System ferry dock.

Kevin Falcon said that the government would contribute $350,000 to the emergency renovation.

"We are committed to investing in local ports to help ensure more reliable service and create economic and tourism opportunities for the surrounding regions," said Falcon.

"There's a lot of people that come through here that spend a lot of money in Prince Rupert and surrounding communities.

"It's really an extension of the B.C. highway system into the heart of Alaska. Because of that, I think that there's a real financial benefit to us making these kinds of connections."

Falcon presented the oversized cheque to Mayor Herb Pond, who then leaned over so Falcon could sign it on his back.

The $350,000 will cover a portion of the $1.2 million the city will be paying for the renovation.

"It we had to pull that $350,00 out of the tax base, it translates to a couple hundred dollars a household, so it's a big deal," said Pond.

"But more importantly, it's a real signal from the province that this Alaska ferry connection means something to them."

In March, an engineering report deemed the Alaska ferry dock unsafe and the city informed the highway system it would have to shut the dock down. The dock was in a state of advanced deterioration.

After service was halted for two runs, the Alaska ferry started to unload at the B.C. Ferries dock.
Because of its agreement with the city, Alaska will not be paying for any of the repairs.

"It's a commercial arrangement where they've been paying us a lease and the lease is supposed to be enough to cover all the operating costs," said Pond.

"From their point of view, they've fulfilled any obligation."

After the presentation, Minister Falcon took the time to tour the container port facility.

"Anywhere I go in the world, it's just so fascinating that everyone is talking about Prince Rupert," said Falcon.

"It never ceases to amaze me. They don't talk about the port of Vancouver. They all want to talk about Prince Rupert.

"Things are really happening here that are being recognized around the world."

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