The Spirit of Lax Kw'alaams is being refitted by the Province of B.C. this year.

Spirit of Lax Kw’alaams ferry being refitted

The Province of B.C. and the Lax Kw'alaams Band have signed an agreement together to refit the Spirit of Lax Kw'alaams ferry

The Province of B.C. and the Lax Kw’alaams have signed an agreement together to refit the Spirit of Lax Kw’alaams ferry to ensure it can continue providing reliable service to and from the village and Prince Rupert.

“We’re supporting the service with up to $400,000 per year,” said Kate Mukasa, Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure public affairs officer earlier in August. That money increases the number of round trips made by the ferry from nine per week to 14.

“The agreement allows for additional ferry trips each week between Prince Rupert and Tuck Inlet, to improve and increase access for local residents and businesses.”

Currently, the ferry is out of service and being refitted, with funding from the province. In the meantime, residents have been taking water taxis and barges to get to and from the communities.

A water taxi runs three times daily at the same rate as the ferry and Wainwright Marine is providing barge services at the same ferry rate, with additional room for vehicles (with an added cost).

The Spirit of Lax Kw’alaams, or the MV Nicola, was built in 1960 and the Band continues to seek an upgrade over the current ferry that allows for more passengers and vehicles. The province is engaged in talks to find a suitable replacement marine vehicle.

The current refit will ensure reliable service until 2020, said Mukasa.

“The province has also committed funding for maintenance work on the docks, including an anti-corrosion system, and will ensure ongoing maintenance of the two docks used to provide service between Aero Point and Tuck Inlet.

Should major LNG projects go through in the area, a connector road would be discussed by stakeholders, connecting Lax Kw’alaams and Prince Rupert, part of the greater in scope Tsimshian Access Project as outlined in the City of Prince Rupert’s Hays 2.0 vision.