Letters to the Editor

Taking another look at tourism in Prince Rupert: Part two

In the first part of this letter which you so kindly published on May 25, 2011, almost verbatim, I attempted to describe from an outsiders point of view, the fundamentals underlying successful Tourism and their links to the notions of Heritage and Hospitality, no matter where.

I also had intended to identify major barriers to the development of such notions. However, I concluded that such an undertaking would be too much to compress into one letter and therefore beg the further withholding of the editorial “dele” so that I can continue.

After further reflection it seemed to me that the successes of the facilities listed were the result of having effective institutional support structures – ie. support structures that had clear mandates, action based practices and procedures and sufficient authority to do whatever is necessary to achieve their defined objectives. Those I listed in the first part of this letter (25 May 2011) illustrate my point quite well;

The Container Terminal – an element in the world transportation system with almost no interest in local tourism, but a big attraction for short term local tourists.

The Museum of Northern BC – a major repository of Aboriginal and local cultural and historical artifacts that attracts the interest of all categories of visitor as well as local and regional residents – it is owned and operated by a registered Museum Society.

The North Pacific Cannery – owned and operated by the Port Edward Historical Society.

Pike Island – a project of the Metlakatla Development Corporation.

Cow Bay – the starting point for Prince Rupert and an historical community principally motivated and influenced by the local entrepreneurs and supported by City Council.

The Sunken Gardens – originally a surveyors disaster, then a World War II Ammunition dump and finally a challenge for the Prince Rupert Garden Club, as a restoration project. The result of which was considered to merit support from Federal, Provincial, and Municipal Governments.

All of these seem to operate reasonable well, although most are probably frustrated by the usual budgetary limitations and uncertainties of voluntary labour. They also appear to have sufficient institutional back-up to suit their needs which range from almost no formal institution (eg. The Sunken Gardens) to that of the Container Terminal.

However, there are two noteworthy examples of Heritage Sites that are in need of attention: one has been officially recognized and established, but has been given almost no support by city hall and the other is what is referred to as the “Black Hole” in my letter of May 25, 2011, which has not been recognized and all attempts to re-establish it have been resisted. I refer to Pillsbury House and to “The Forts’.

I would consider Pillsbury House to be a small problem, while I would consider the Forts to be a major and long-term challenge.

- Pillsbury House – the City of Prince Rupert owns Pillsbury House and the property on which it sits. A Heritage Advisory Committee has been established and been given monitoring responsibility over it. The House has been leased to a person who is operating an informal “Bed and Breakfast”. The House has to meet the provincial standards for a formal B&B designation and no-one is willing or able to provide funds to rectify deficiencies, so the property continues to be a drain on city resources.

The City should give serious

consideration to re-establishing the Heritage Advisory Committee as a Heritage Advisory Society (Non-Profit Registered) under the Societies Act and with a mandate that  enables it to continue its advisory role to the City, on heritage matters, and empowers it to hold property, to publicly raise funds and to engage contractors for maintenance and capital development purposes. Board membership should be expanded to include representation from the B&B Community. With such a structure, Pillsbury House could continue as one of the City’s major Heritage Sites without being a drain on City coffers.

- “The Forts” – the Forts I refer to are the two former Coast Defence Artillery Emplacements at the Prince Rupert Southwestern Harbour entrance, Barret Point on Kaien Island, and Frederick point on Digby Island. They are almost the last and most visible remains of a substantial military (both Canadian and American) presence in Prince Rupert that commenced during 1938 and continued until shortly after the conclusion of hostilities (a copy of the defence scheme for Prince Rupert published in August 1943 by the defence commander listed more than 25 unit addresses).

The Fort at Barret Point is on the Southwest tip of Kaien Island. The property on which it is sited is under the administrative control of the Port Authority.

The Fort at Frederick Point on Digby Island is on Provincial Land and has a department of Agriculture Reserve on it.

In spite of having been abandoned for over 60 years, these installments are in remarkably good condition, although the forest has taken over to a substantial degree. Because of easier access, Barret Fort has suffered more damage from vandalism than has Frederick Point, in either case initial remediation is more of a pick and shovel job than a high technology one.

Once again I am running out of time, publishing space and probably editorial fatigue! In this letter I have attempted to describe briefly some of the major facilities to which tourist interest could be attributed and to suggest that their successes in this regard could be linked to the strengths of their supporting institutions. I also identify two facilities that might benefit from a strengthening or creation of, support structures which, in one case, should result in a lessening of the demands on City resources, and the other, could result in the reclaiming of what should have been a national site.

In my third and hopefully final epistle, I plan to describe how a small group of us have been trying to address the latter of these two challenges and difficulties we have encountered.


David O. Hill

Prince Rupert

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