Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Federal infrastructure funding proves elusive for Prince Rupert

Mayor Lee Brain in Ottawa in April of 2015
(photo from Mayor Brain's Facebook page)

The process of sourcing out Federal funding is the Holy Grail for many a municipality, as it seeks to gain a share of federal and provincial money for any number of large scale projects that need to be addressed.

The topic of how the City of Prince Rupert is faring when it comes to getting some of that cash came up  last week at City Council, as Mayor Lee Brain, taking note of a recent Northern View article on grant applications quite pointedly declared that "the city knows how to write grant applications".

The Mayor's observations on the theme came as the city approved motions to pursue two separate funding applications for a pair of projects related to the city's aging water supply, with the City working towards the deadline of November 23rd for applications.

During the course of his comments to council last week, Mayor Brain did not deliver a list for Council, or for the public watching at home, of any of the Federal infrastructure grant applications that the city may have submitted over the last two years.

A lack of background information that makes it a little hard to gauge the success, or lack of such if that's the case, when it comes to the city's efforts since this current Council group first met following the election of November 2014.

And while we will take the Mayor at his word that the City Council and its staff members may be familiar with the grant writing process, when you begin to look over the list on infrastructure grants provided by the Federal Government, it would appear that the finish line in securing some of that funding is proving to be an elusive thing.

Particularly as it seems that any Federal cheques that may have been in the mail and destined for the North Coast have been few and far between.

The Federal government features its data base of funding announcements through the Infrastructure Canada Department website, a listing that is presently up to date as of September 29th, 2016.

From a review of those listings, when it comes to successful outcomes, Prince Rupert is mentioned only once since the current City Council took office in December of 2014.

That one item is the 2.2 million dollar Federal contribution announced on July 2nd of 2015 delivered  towards the City of Prince Rupert's Raw Water Supply Project.

That announcement came on the same day that Port Edward received word of a federal contribution of 1 million dollars for work on the proposed Wampler Way road project.

The two grants that were delivered to the North Coast last year, were part of a larger list of funding confirmations for other communities in the Northwest that were announced at the time.

A look at that list for 2015-16 and what the Federal contributions around the Northwest looked like, goes as follows:

Terrace area

July 7, 2015
Highway 16/CNR Mile 28 Grade Separation -- $17,525,000

June 9, 2015
Northwest Regional Airport Expansion -- $4,442,357


July 2, 2015
Sewage Treatment plant Upgrade -- $1,200,000

Burns Lake

September 9, 2016
Water Tower replacement -- $1,261,741


July 2, 2015
Solid Waste Landfill and Waste Treatment System -- $863,000


July 2, 2015 -
Construction of Water Reservoir and Transmission Lion -- $780,000

While the topic of success or failure in recent years when it comes to seeking out federal money on infrastructure may have made for some discussion in recent weeks around town. When we look at past funding announcements for years previous, other than a short burst of activity six and seven years ago, the Federal distributions have actually been sparse for the Prince Rupert area for much of the last decade.

Using the same infrastructure database which goes as far back as 2004, we find that the Prince Rupert area receives only a handful of mentions when it comes to grabbing some of the available federal cash.

As Prince Rupert and Port Edward staked their claim for infrastructure related projects only eight times during that period.

Prince Rupert/Port Edward

January 29, 2010
Atlin Terminal Renovations and Seismic upgrade -- $952,649

January 29, 2010
Ridley Island Causeway Repairs -- $250,000

January 29, 2010
Ridley Island Water Supply -- $250,000

September 23, 2009
Prince Rupert Sewage Pump -- $748,440

September 1, 2009
Port Edward Water main replacement -- $200,000

August 10, 2009
Community Pathways -- $50,000

February 12, 2009
Hays Creek Sewer Relocation -- $1,332,107

February 12, 2009
Port Edward water mains -- $523,333

By comparison, the remainder of the NorthWest, Haida Gwaii and coastal regions found success with 30 applications, with the database relaying how funding has been delivered for a range of infrastructure projects for both municipal and regional objectives:


March 3, 2014
Dutch Valley Stabilization -- $24,159

September 1, 2009
Frank Street Well Generator -- $149,143

August 10, 2009
Grand Trunk Pathway -- $47,112

February 12, 2009
Terrace Industrial Park Access road -- $662,312

July 10, 2007
North Terrace Water extension -- $1,033,000


September 9, 2009
Walkway rejuvenation -- $174,333

December 12, 2007
Kitimat Sewer Lining -- $315,833


September 9, 2009
Highway 16 resurfacing  -- $1,250,056

August 3, 2009
Highway 16 resurfacing -- $817,317

September 1, 2009
Riverside Campground improvements -- $166,667

August 10, 2009
Toronto Street trail connector -- $18,000

February 12, 2009
Smithers South Trunk Storm Sewer project -- $780,773

July 10, 2007
Smithers airport runway extension -- $1,000,000


September 9, 2009
Watermain replacement phase 1 -- $200,000


November 11, 2009
Highway 16 - Truck Lanes -- $195,553

September 1, 2009
Well Water Backup power -- $80,043.00

August 10, 2009
Houston Walking, Biking, Cycling project  -- $131,250

July 10, 2007
District Heating system -- $789,000


October 11, 2011
Hazelton Dike Erosion protection upgrade -- $86,025

September 9, 2009
Water Distribution System improvements -- $222,855

September 1, 2009
Storm Sewer, Street and sidewalk renewal -- $200,000

February 12, 2009
South Hazelton Water Treatment -- $567,767

Burns Lake

January 28, 2010
Ridler Forest Service Road construction  -- $117,412

September 1, 2009
Cultural and Recreational infrastructure -- $113,993

December 12, 2007
Burns Lake Reservoir remediation -- $31,736

Haida Gwaii and Coastal regions


January 25, 2010
Klemtu Terminal -- $8,341,450

Port Clements

September 1 2009
Sewage Treatment Facility upgrade -- $25,785

December 12, 2007
Public Water Supply upgrade -- $326,453


September 24, 2009
Waterline replacement -- $502,745

September 1, 2009
Northwest Drive Path -- $16,325

As far as the process of seeking out any funding, provincial or federal goes, the onus is on municipalities such as the City of Prince Rupert to make sure that their grant application stands out from all the others and that deadlines for applications aren't missed.

However, they shouldn't have to carry that ball alone, a little help from other political levels, both federal and provincial might help secure to some of that cash.

On that theme, there would seem to be a bit of work yet to be done by the local MP to advocate for those civic initiatives, particularly when it comes to infrastructure issues in Prince Rupert.

If the federal data base is any indication, MP Nathan Cullen, who has represented the riding for all of the period that was reviewed, might want to touch base with the City and help to push some of the concerns of the North Coast up to the front of the Federal line.

If he's looking for a couple of initiatives to champion, those two key ingredients to the city's waterline concerns outlined last week could make for projects to be heard on while he's in Ottawa.

Along with those two applications, the City will no doubt be digesting the latest financial update from the Finance Minister delivered yesterday and the prospects for further infrastructure funding that may be available from the Federal treasury in the year ahead.

Making their list, checking it twice and making sure that any filing dates don't manage to slip by them before they deliver their applications.

A look at the Finance Minister's financial statement and its plans for infrastructure funding can be found on our Darcy McGee portal.

You can find more information related to the city's infrastructure issues available here.


  1. This article should be titled "Federal Infrastructure money elusive to Northern communities" - but hey, seeing as you have a crush on mayor brain I can see why you spun the article that way. The rail upgrade on Highway 16 was a joint PR/Terrace initiative.

  2. Can't say as I have a "crush" on Mayor Brain, or have "spun" the article in any way. The Blog is one that is focused on Prince Rupert, so that would be where the main theme would be found. The numbers are pretty solid in their review. Regardless of who has been Mayor over the last ten years, other areas of the NW do appear to have fared better in federal money that the North Coast.

    Stats are stats ...

    But, hey, thanks for reading, be sure to share the article


    1. A 'crush' is a bit over the top but you have to admit NCR that you are usually on the critical side towards city council and this mayor, it's a clear tone in your articles. They also don't get the opportunity to respond to your stuff since you don't reveal your identity so its a bit of a one sided arrangement in your favor. I think what the stats show tho is that between 2010 and 2014 very little in federal infrastructure money was given to northern communities. If you look at it, the current mayor got elected in dec 2014 and within less than a year in got a federal grant. I don't remember the last time I ever saw anyone from Prince Rupert go to Ottawa and knock on doors. Good on the mayor going out and getting it within a short time frame, I'm confident we'll be seeing more federal money coming to the community under this council's leadership, they are doing a good job. It's easy to look at websites and write an article, not so easy to get the federal infrastructure minister on your team. I've watched this community through the ups and downs over the years, I think we're on the right track finally.

  3. The blog has an email address , anyone who may have an interest in the themes of the blog can make use of it, actually a few on Council have in the last year.

    As far as criticism goes, considering the blog is really the only source of constant info on matters related to city council, there are many items to look over regarding all aspects of City Council both positive and other items that perhaps deserve a more critical review.

    Sometimes you have to accept a critical eye on issues too, rather than just accept the message making that seems to be on the rise here.

    Seems to me that there are a few other options in town available for you to get the more positive reviews that you seem to desire.

    However, I am Glad you are optimistic that the city will be receiving more funding under the current leadership.

    May your prognostication prove visionary!

    1. I for one like this blog and like that it has a critical view on things. but I do agree however that although being critical is a good thing at times its hard to trust a blogger who wont reveal their identity. its the only real flaw of this website. i would have so much more respect if you wrote with your name and faced equal criticism like others you write about. my 2 cents but keep up keeping us informed.

    2. Thanks for the feedback, the blog is what it is, don't forsee any change in its current dynamic.

      People tend to get too hung up on who is behind the blog, what's more important really is that it provides information, some of it which other sources seem to miss or decide isn't newsworthy enough to spend time on.

      Folks can read it or not, trust it or ignore it, we'll publish it until we get weary of the task.

  4. seems pretty on par with other communities in the north?