Prince Rupert Mayor Lee Brain and Christine White

Alternative transportation solution for at-risk women traveling along Highway 16

The City of Prince Rupert won't contribute to the provincial plan that would see an affordable limited bus service to and from Terrace.

The City of Prince Rupert has decided it won’t contribute to the original provincial plan that would see an affordable limited bus service to and from Terrace.

Instead of sharing the costs with the province to support a three-year pilot program that would provide a low-cost round-trip bus service, the city announced on Dec. 7 it will support a localized solution with the North Coast Transition Society (NCTS) that offers at-risk women and children safe transportation.

The NCTS service enables women and children to call or text any time of the day or night if they need to travel and don’t have the means to pay. The travel assistance has been available for the past two years.

“The North Coast Transition Society’s existing service provides a safe and immediate response, and in addition NCTS provides wraparound social services and support to women and children to ensure they are adequately provided for in times of need. We believe this to be the most important priority,” said Mayor Lee Brain.

The wraparound service ensures there is support for the woman once she arrives in Terrace. The Ksan Society has a transition home for women and children and will be informed on who is coming from Prince Rupert to make sure they’re okay once they arrive.

Through provincial grants, the NCTS in Prince Rupert offers women and children emergency funds and travel assistance when seeking help. This includes taxi vouchers to the Transition House, as well as transportation out of town and to Terrace.

“The grant money is not permanent so it is fortunate that the City of Prince Rupert has reached out with their idea to address keeping vulnerable citizens safe when using highways or situated in remote areas. NCTS has the ability to respond immediately in times of crisis and or high risk situations to determine the most effective and efficient plan for their safety,” said Christine White, Executive Director of NCTS.

The service is adaptable and utilizes transportation networks already available, such as bus, trains, ferry and works in conjunction with other community partners to ensure the safety of the person or family, White said.

In the summer, the provincial government announced the Highway 16 Transportation Action Plan to improve transit and safety along the infamous Highway of Tears, the 800km stretch of highway between Prince Rupert and Prince George where several women have been killed or have gone missing.

Part of the province’s $5-million plan was to create a community transportation program, where the municipalities and First Nations’ governments would share the cost in providing a bus system along the highway.

“While we are disappointed that Prince Rupert has chosen not to support inter-community transit along Highway 16, we respect their decision to go another route,” said Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Todd Stone. “We have said to Prince Rupert that the door is open, should the community decide to change direction and take advantage of the transit program in the future.”

BC Transit spokesperson Jonathon Dyck stated in an email that further discussions will be required with the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine, the proposed local government contract holder, to determine next steps.

A six day a week bus service between Smithers and Moricetown will begin in January through a partnership with the provincial government, BC Transit and local governments. “With so many partners along the corridor committed, plans to implement transit service between communities from Terrace through to Prince George can proceed,” Stone said.

Between August and September, BC Transit asked the public for feedback on what they would like from a bus route for their community. Most residents who responded to the provincial survey stated they wanted to use the bus service for medical appointments or for shopping in Terrace.

After consulting with First Nations and service groups, Port Edward council, provincial and federal representatives, the City of Prince Rupert determined the limited bus service back and forth to Terrace two to three times a week was not the best option. In more centralized areas where communities are closer together, such as between Terrace, Hazelton and Smithers, BC Transit’s proposed bus plan makes more sense.

“For us, supporting NCTS is a localized solution that can act in complement with improved transportation between communities inland,” Brain said.

The District of Port Edward had also been skeptical on the cost-sharing bus program to Terrace. “We believe this proposed alternative transportation program better serves our circumstances,” said Port Edward Mayor Dave MacDonald.

For planned trips, residents have access to the Greyhound bus service that leaves Prince Rupert at 10 a.m. daily as well as a VIA rail passenger train that departs three times a week at 8 a.m. For patients, Northern Health operates Northern Connections bus service for out-of-town medical appointments.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Coast Mountain College sets up student emergency fund

It’ll provide grocery store gift cards for students affected by COVID-19 crisis

City gives no response to homelessness concerns

City demands shelter close, but no response to pleas from shelter to open Jim Ciccone Civic Centre

Landlords are panicked

Risk is real for April rent and greater challenges are foreshadowed for May

Parade of welcome and love in Prince Rupert

Friends welcome new baby in drive by visit

Trudeau rejects mandatory stay-at-home order for now; COVID deaths up

The virus has now infected more than 10,000 Canadians and cost 130 their lives

B.C. health officer says homemade masks may prevent spread of COVID-19 to others

Practising physical distancing, frequent hand washing and resisting touching your face are proven methods

B.C.’s senior home staff measures show results in COVID-19 battle

Dr. Bonnie Henry’s order restricts care aides to one facility

‘A matter of human decency’: Truckers’ union calls on gas stations, rest stops to fully re-open

Teamsters Canada wants feds, provinces to put pressure on facilities to re-open for transport workers

B.C. unveils $3.5M COVID-19 emergency fund for post-secondary students

Money will help students cover living expenses, food, travel, portable computers

‘We will get through this’: B.C. sees new COVID-19 death, but 57% have recovered

A total of 1,066 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus

Canada’s 75% wage subsidy is coming, but not for several weeks: finance minister

Subsidy will cost Canada $71 billion, but push down cost of emergency benefit, Morneau said

COVID-19: ‘The Ballad of Bonnie Henry’ recorded and released

LISTEN: Quick turnaround for song penned by B.C. Order of Canada musician Phil Dwyer

B.C. adding $300 to monthly income and disability assistance payments

‘Crisis supplement’ for COVID-19 for April, May and June

Most Read