Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Chamber of Commerce takes Prince Rupert message to Alaska paper

With an editorial from the Juneau Empire seemingly raising a bit of an alarm among the members of the Prince Rupert Chamber of Commerce, John Farrell as President and speaking on behalf of the Chamber, put his dusty journalist's hat back on for a few moments and provided an editorial submission of his own for the Alaska newspaper.

Mr. Farrell, who once was a member of the old Daily News writing staff offered up a number of points from the Prince Rupert side of the A - B line, sharing some of the concerns from the Prince Rupert Chamber when it comes to the perception of the local interest in the terminal renovation. 

In part, the letter to the Empire is in response to those recent editorial observations in the paper which suggested that ending the Ferry Service to Prince Rupert is something that the State of Alaska should consider

An option that a few of the Empire's loyal readership appeared to embrace with a fair amount of passion.

Mr. Farrell's submission to the paper adds the Chamber's voice to the discussion when it comes to the ongoing controversy over the now suspended Terminal project, the fall out of which could have a large impact on both local opportunities for the terminal work and  on tourism across Northern BC.

Chamber of Commerce
President John Farrell
The tone of his contribution to the Empire is one that suggests that the steel issue at the heart of the dispute isn't as large a concern for the local Chamber members (and perhaps for some of the local population), as it appears to be for politicians in Victoria and Ottawa.

A couple of key passages from his letter to the Empire highlight how seriously the Chamber is viewing the current impasse when it comes to the terminal plans.

Here’s the rub. While this sabre-rattling may look good from a political perspective, it’s positively backward from the economic standpoint of Main Street B.C. The Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce welcomed this investment from day one, and while we may think the spirit of the “Buy American” law runs contrary to the nature of the free market, we were willing to look past that and look forward to a $15 million investment in our local economy. 

 No Canadian steel? No problem. Our local economy would have undoubtedly benefited from the project: Local contractors could have submitted bids for work that needed to be done, local workers could have taken part of the project, and our retail and hospitality sector would have seen a bump in revenue. Indeed, the ultimate decision by the Alaskan government to defer the project is a blow to the local economy. 

Farrell also calls attention to the long lasting friendships that have been cultivated between Alaska and Northwest British Columbia. Highlighted by the relationship that Prince Rupert has with the Southeast Alaska Conference, with Mr. Farrell reminding Alaskans that the city is playing host to that conference in the fall.

We would like to make clear that we treasure the relationships that have been forged with our neighbors to the North. The people of Northwest B.C. have done business with the people of Alaska for many years, and, in a sense, the ferry terminal in Prince Rupert was a symbol of that strong relationship.

You can review the full article to the Juneau Empire here.

For our complete archive on the Alaska Ferry Terminal dispute see our Transportation page here.

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