A delegation from Prince Rupert made an appearance at the Greater Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce luncheon in Alaska in mid-May to continue searching for a solution for Rupert’s Alaska Marine Highway Terminal, which has fallen in disrepair. The trip was also intended to boost tourism linkages between the two communities.
The delegation, which included Prince Rupert Mayor Lee Brain, Tourism Prince Rupert chair Scott Farwell and other officials, spoke to Ketchikan chamber members on tourism opportunities, travel linkages between Alaska and Rupert and cruise ship comparisons.
“The purpose of the trip to Ketchikan was primarily to look to opportunities to strengthen economic and tourism-related ties between our communities,” said Mayor Brain.
“In addition, we continue to advocate for a mutually beneficial solution to the Alaska Marine Highway System.”
The crew took the new Misty Fjords Air flight service from Rupert to get to their northern American neighbours, who Mayor Brain said use the Prince Rupert terminal as the shortest link to Alaska. He added that the city continues to be involved with discussions on the terminal’s potential upgrades but that many factors fall out of the city’s hands.
“Alaska is currently reviewing the Marine Highway System. Their decision with respect to upgrading the terminal for the Marine Highway System will be influenced by budgetary, as well as other considerations, which unfortunately are factors beyond our control at the municipal level,” Brain said.
“Not only does the ferry service allow our residents to visit Alaska for sightseeing or to visit family, but it brings a significant amount of tourist exchange between B.C. and Alaska.
“Every year, [more than] 14,000 people use the Alaska Marine Highway System to travel between our two regions. Disruption of the Alaska Marine Highway ferry service would reduce tourism traffic, as well as the exchange of local sports teams and cultural groups like the annual First Nations Canoe Journey that often go between Prince Rupert and Alaska.”
A proposal to use American supplies and Canadian labour to build the terminal was proposed late last year as the Canadian government caught up to speed with the situation. American officials protested the use of Canadian supplies for the upgrades project.
A renovation to the terminal was not listed in the 2016-2019 Alaska Statewide Transportation Improvement Program released earlier this year.