City of Prince Rupert, provincial government debate airport road maintenance responsibility

The City of Prince Rupert will be pushing for the provincial government to take over maintenance of the airport access road.

The City of Prince Rupert will be pushing for the provincial government to take over maintenance of the airport access road, and possibly the ferry, but the Ministry of Transportation says it has no intention of doing so.

The issue was brought forward at the March 24 council meeting by former mayor Don Scott, who said the province needs to be more involved as it is in other communities.

“What, if anything, are staff and council doing to cover the cost of the ferry service? The province, I believe, has legislation saying access to airports is provincial jurisdiction,” he said.

“Right now we’re taking responsibility, but it is theirs. Is there no legal steps we can take … I think it is important to take another look at it. Others have their access taken care of while we do not.”

Noting the province did provide money for the Tsimshian Peninsula Access Project, which would move the ferry terminal to the lower end of Digby Island and cut sailing time by approximately 10 minutes, Mayor Jack Mussallem said they have had a similar discussion with the government.

“The province has disputed that … they refuse to take any ownership of that road.”

In an email the Northern View, Ministry of Transportation spokesperson Robert Adam said all responsibility for the airport falls to the city.

“The airport is a private facility owned and operated by the City of Prince Rupert through the Prince Rupert Airport Authority (PRAA),” he explained, noting past transactions also put the road in the city’s jurisdiction.

“The 4.8 km access road connecting Tobey point (ferry landing) to the airport, was built under federal jurisdiction between 1957 and 1959, and began operating under the jurisdiction of Transport Canada in 1961 … the airport was transferred from Transport Canada to the PRAA in 1997; the City of Prince Rupert owns the airport through the incorporation of the PRAA.”

Regardless, council passed a motion to write the ministry a letter requesting they take over the road maintenance and potentially the cost of running the Digby Island ferry.

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