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Prince Rupert and region invited to public engagement session for Northern Corridor infrastructure

University of Calgary researchers need local input
Maintenance crews clear snow off the apex of a bridge along Highway 16 on Dec. 23. District of Port Edward Mayor Knut Bjorndal said the highway is a critical piece of infrastructure for the region and needs improvements. (Photo: Bo Millar/The Northern View)

Researchers are looking for public input from Prince Rupert and regional community residents for their views on transportation and connectivity such as road, rail, transmission, pipelines, telecommunications and internet services.

The Canadian Northern Corridor concept is a project being worked on by a Univeritsy of Calgary research team from the School of Public Policy who are holding a community engagement session on March 30, said Garret Kent Fellows, assistant professor with the school.

The public can register for the free engagement session online. The event will run from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

“We want to hear from community members. We want input and insights into what does infrastructure mean for your community, what are potential projects you’re already thinking about, where is infrastructure good for the community and then what are the concerns,” Fellows said. “If you’re thinking about your livelihood, what would it mean to have a better quality highway going through northern B.C and into Alberta.”

Regarding municipal projects, the researchers also want to know the public’s opinion around the Port of Prince Rupert expansions and the coinciding increase in activity.

“Municipal governments have been engaged in the Canadian Northern Corridor Research program’s virtual roundtable sessions, which started in January 2022 and continue until July 2022,” Maham Aftab, engagement analyst for Ballad Group, said. “Outreach efforts were made to reach the City of Prince Rupert directly and through the Union of BC Municipalities.”

“What we don’t understand and what we want to understand is what does this mean for people in these more remote communities,” Fellows said. “[We’re] really trying to drill down to the municipal level and thinking about what this means for local communities rather than just thinking about it about it from a Canadian macroeconomic perspective.”

Prince Rupert and area is the fourth of 19 remote communities across northern Canada from which the researchers are gathering local input.

The researchers are well-supplied with macro-level data, statistics and information on the Canadian economy but lack the link to the individual municipalities within the Northern Corridor.

District of Port Edward Mayor Knut Bjorndal, said he was unaware of the upcoming public session but welcomed the initiative.

“It’s good to get our point of view and what we think out,” Bjorndal told The Northern View.

The number one issue for the region is Highway 16, he said.

“The highway is basically the umbilical cord from Prince Rupert and Port Edward to a lot of services in Terrace. The most important being medical,” he said.

The second concern is direct internet connectivity that spans the whole district. As it stands now, several parts of the municipality have access only to satellite internet, which is sub-par, the mayor said.

“All the other things we have are second-to-none.”

“The railway has lots of capacity. The port still has room for growth, and the municipality rarely experiences power outages,” Bjorndal said.

Norman Galimski | Journalist
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