Findings ready from MP’s infrastructure tour across the north

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen has released the results of his 2016 infrastructure tour across B.C.’s northwest.

Nathan Cullen. Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP.

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen has released the results of his 2016 infrastructure tour across B.C.’s northwest and his findings will sound familiar to North Coast residents.

Among the 11 items the MP listed in his Investing in Our Communities: Infrastructure Priorities for the Northwest 2016-2019 report, Highway 16 transit linkage, traffic and intersection upgrades, affordable housing, multi-purpose green spaces and water and sewage issues were all top of mind for Cullen and are all themes Rupertites know quite well.

The recently announced public transit link from Prince Rupert to Prince George was a common topic of discussion for the MP in the many towns and cities he held his forum in. Funding from the province and feds have been announced to ensure a highway bus is in service by the end of 2016. Personal safety of highway users was cited as a main reason for the bus system.

In Rupert, community members told Cullen of a study needed to identify areas where better sidewalks and crosswalk lights are needed. The City of Prince Rupert is tackling some infrastructure deficit issues  such as these through the ReBuild Rupert campaign.

Next, affordable housing concerns were shared not only in Prince Rupert, but throughout the riding. Homeless shelters, assisted living and housing for the disabled and elderly were identified.

“Everyone has the right to affordable housing, and I will continue to work with municipal leaders and all levels of government to address severe housing shortages in our communities. This is one of my top priorities,” Cullen wrote in the report. Accompanying the city’s recent movement toward ‘Placemaking’, calls were made for investments in trails, municipal campgrounds and hot springs.

“Communities are looking for investments in building and renewing gathering spots, performance spaces and parks, and multi-purpose projects – spaces that offer artistic, recreational and entrepreneurial opportunities for everyone,” Cullen wrote.

One of the last items of concern noteworthy to North Coast residents was the need for water and sewage infrastructure upgrades. Currently the City of Prince Rupert is implementing a three-phase project to fix water lines and replace the water dam totalling $15 million.

PNW LNG clock restarting

Cullen also addressed the late September deadline for the federal cabinet’s review of the Pacific NorthWest LNG terminal on Lelu Island and again emphasized that the government is receiving bad information.

“[The government] is relying on bad science and I don’t know why local knowledge and good science that has been provided to the federal government is consistently being ignored and why the company chooses a more expensive and more dangerous project to support rather than just having a better location and gaining the public support that they want,” Cullen said. The MP added he believed that the Lax Kw’alaams Band were holding internal meetings leading to a vote targeted to be held in late June on the project. “Eventually the plan was to hold a vote. I assumed it was for the end of June but I haven’t had an update in the last few weeks … I know it’ll be something that folks from here all the way across to Ottawa will be looking for,” said Cullen.

Court of Appeal turns over Enbridge pipeline

Cullen also shared his thoughts on the Northern Gateway’s approval overturn by the Court of Appeal. “This is welcome news for First Nations and people, not just in the north, but across British Columbia. For many years, we’ve argued that the process was fatally flawed. The government would sit and listen hour after hour and completely ignore all of our concerns time and time again. It was insulting in many occasions and now we finally have the courts confirming that,” the MP said.