Sunday, November 09, 2008

A timely intercession from Nathan Cullen

As the city of Prince Rupert prepares to amend its budget on Monday, partially due to cost over runs on the Alaska Marine Highway Dock at Fairview, the region’s MP Nathan Cullen is preparing to take the case for funding to the Federal Government.

Cullen the recently re-elected NDP MP for Skeena-Bulkley Valley, is setting his political agenda in Ottawa to include seeking assistance for the City of Prince Rupert and the repairs to the gateway to British Columbia that starts in the city.

While he’s more than anxious to get to work on behalf of the city, he’s expressing regret that the request did not come earlier in the process. In an article in Friday’s Daily News, Cullen states that the issue wasn’t presented to him as “an urgent and dire one until recently”.

If that’s the case and the issue wasn’t presented as an item of interest early on, that indicates that the city may have dropped the ball to a degree in their quest for full assistance on the project and a procedure which should be examined for future requirements.

The timeline as it is now, makes for an unfortunate delay, leaving an avenue unexplored until now which could have been of great assistance to the city and their recent revisions to the municipal budget, revisions necessitated by a reduction of revenues and an increase in costs.

This particular ball is now in Mr. Cullen’s court, it will be interesting to see what form of success he has in gaining some assistance from the Conservative government, or if the Prince Rupert request for assistance gets lost in some form of backbench purgatory.

Ferry dock lobbying is at top of MP's to-do list
Nathan Cullen says he will be urging Ottawa to pay-up
By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Friday, November 07, 2008
Page three

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen is backing-up the city of Prince Rupert's request for federal funding for its Alaska Ferry dock.

He says he just wishes the request had come sooner.

"This will be one of the first things we bring forward to Ottawa. The city has stepped up and the province has made good on their commitments but the (federal government) needs to show up to as well," said Cullen.

The City of Prince Rupert has been saddled with two-thirds of the cost for the ferry dock retrofit, even though it is essentially a federal border crossing, which normally comes under federal jurisdiction for maintenance and operation.

The city started work on the dock in 2006, after the Alaska Marine Highway System noted extensive damage to pilings, but failed to complete the work in 2007 after the budget shortfall. In February, the work was expected to cost $250,000.

However, that price has increased since and even with a $350,000 kick-in from the province, the city still needs federal money to complete the work.

"To be frank, it hasn't been presented to me as an urgent and dire one until recently and that's fine. Now that we have a new parliament and a new budget being written and drawn up so let's get after some of the transportation dollars that are out there," said Cullen.

Cullen is also mulling over whether or not he wants to continue on as the NDP's environment critic. According to him, he suspects that he won't be named shadow environment minister because the current make-up of the NDP caucus holds an impressive list of people with environmental backgrounds. He says he would be happy to leave the environment portfolio if necessary and added that there are other portfolios that have been catching his eye, and would relish other opportunities should they present themselves.

"I've spoke to (Jack Layton) about it and he's encouraging me to make decisions and give my preference but I've always been interested in international issues and business issues. Taxation is a way to promote small and medium business, which is something that is near and dear to my heart. I put those things forward, but whatever it is it's meant to be an opportunity for me to talk about Skeena-Bulkley Valley," said Cullen.

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