Thursday, November 06, 2008

A new Port Edward transportation option is outlined but with snags

Port Edward Council listened with interest last week as Prince Rupert resident Ron Haldane outlined his thoughts on setting up a taxi service to serve the Port Edward and Prince Rupert areas, with particular interest in providing a transportation link between the district and the BC Ferry dock at Fairview Bay.

His plans however have run into a roadblock from a Prince Rupert bylaw in effect since 2003 which outlines limitations on taxi service in the city and have so far scuttled Mr. Haldane's plans to launch his shuttle service. While he would have no problem operating his business out of Port Edward, he would run into trouble when he would try to pick up fares in Prince Rupert, which would prove to be a costly operation based on one way traffic out of Port Ed but with none returning.

The Daily News provided background on the issue in Tuesday's paper

Port Ed taxi idea driven home to district's council
Man wants to cater to villagers leaving by ferry
By Patrick Witwicki
The Daily News
Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Page five

Port Edward councillors would love to see improved taxi or shuttle service in the area, and Prince Rupert resident Ron Haldane addressed that situation at last Tuesday's Port Ed council meeting, with a proposal that could offer improvements to the North Coast.

Haldane has a business plan in place and wants to start up his own taxi/shuttle service, but cannot do so until an amendment is made to bylaw 3166, that puts a limit on taxi service in Prince Rupert. The bylaw has been in place since 2003.

"I am seeking to become an independent business owner in the Prince Rupert and Terrace region," said Haldane. "It is the coastal communities I wish to accommodate."

Haldane then talked about how people from outlying villages including Lax Kw'alaams, Gitxaala, and Hartley Bay have, in the past, been in a tough position when visiting Rupert, specifically when it comes to getting their goods out of Rupert back to their villages.

"I've noticed that individuals from Hartley Bay, Lax Kw'alaams and Kitkatla require two or three taxis to get their luxury items down to the dock," said Haldane.

Haldane, instead, would offer up a 12-passenger van, complete with enough storage space to get everything down to the docks in one trip. He also voiced his concern that during cruise ship season, the current taxi service in town chooses to "flock to the cruise ship dock, meaning my people can't get to the dock," he said, in time for the 4 p.m. ferry. Haldane, who is Tsimshian, also said his shuttle service could eventually be used for hire for travel between Rupert and Terrace, such as for travelling sports teams, or just people who don't have vehicles and need to make the day-trip to Terrace.

Haldane also said that, for now, he would stick with the 12-passenger vans, after meeting with the principal of Prince Rupert Secondary School, who informed him that schools are "staying away from 15-passenger vans.

"The current vehicle I have would also transport passengers, but would be primarily for groceries and goods."

Haldane said he would then expand on the fleet once the business officially got going.
Coun. James Brown suggested that Haldane base his business out of Port Edward, then he wouldn't have to worry about that bylaw.

"I think this is long overdo," he said. "They do the same thing for us up in Kincolith ... and they take us all the way to Terrace, sometimes even Rupert."

Coun. Murray Kristoff added: "Do you forecast a lot of business in Port Ed? How many Port Ed cabs could you have in Port Edward?"

But Mayor Dave MacDonald said that locating the business in Port Edward still wouldn't help because there would be an issue with a new business owner picking up fares in the city of Prince Rupert.

"They tried that years ago," he said. "We could drop people off, but they fought tooth and nail against picking people up."

That said, Port Edward was in support of Haldane's plan, since it could offer up an alternative for Port Edward residents looking to get home from Rupert on any given day.

"You've done your homework, and I don't see why we wouldn't support it," said MacDonald.

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