|North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice was in Terrace today, hailing the newest|
link in Transportation in the Northwest between Terrace and the Hazleton's
North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice was in Terrace today, as the latest link in the Highway 16 Inter-community transportation link was officially put into service for the Northwest.
With Marlene Swift from Prince Rupert, a Highway 16 survivor standing with her in Terrace, Ms. Rice hailed the introduction of the service as a historic event.
Speaking on behalf of Claire Trevena the Ministry of Transportation and infrastructure, Ms. Rice observed that it was on June 16th, 2006 that the first recommendation of a shuttle bus system was announced as part of the Highway of Tears Symposium findings.
After some initial delays in moving forward with those findings, the previous Liberal government did start to roll out a number of initiatives over the course of the last year, to year and a half, including the framework of what now has become the Highway 16 transportation links.
As Ms. Rice concluded her notes for the celebration of the introduction of the new service, the North Coast MLA observed how the Terrace leg of the service is just the latest addition towards that original recommendation of 2006 to provide for safe and affordable transportation along the Highway through the Northwest.
Through the course of her presentation to the Terrace gathering, Ms. Rice traced the string of four announcements to this point that have provided for the shuttle system along the Highway 16 corridor, many of which had been put in motion by the previous Liberal government, something which was not mentioned as part of her comments for the Terrace audience.
As Ms. Rice relayed the long desired news of the new destinations that will become part of the new service, one community stood out for its absence.
As we've noted in the past on the blog, the Highway 16 shuttle system, which the North Coast MLA has long been a champion of, still does not travel to Prince Rupert in the MLA's own riding of the North Coast.
For all the roll out announcements of the last year, the highway transportation initiative will still continue to stop at the western side of the Terrace City limits.
To refresh our memories on why that last leg still hasn't been added, we go back just over a year ago, which is when the City of Prince Rupert and other regional stakeholders decided to hold to the current transportation system in place on the North Coast.
In the City of Prince Rupert notice of December 7th, 2016 the reasoning behind the decision not to participate in the provincial government's highway transportation plan was explained in relation to the more isolated nature of the rural island communities of the North Coast.
“Unfortunately in Prince Rupert’s context as a more isolated community and a service center for many rural island communities, this 2 or 3 times a week bus will not directly address the main concerns for our location regarding the Highway of Tears. However, we do understand that the proposed bus would work well in the Terrace, Hazelton and Smithers areas, where there are clusters of rural communities in close proximity,” said Mayor Lee Brain. “For us, supporting NCTS is a localized solution that can act in complement with improved transportation between communities inland.”
The alternative transportation program that currently is provided by the North Coast Transition society, provides for emergency funds and travel assistance to women and children who need safety from violence.
The transportation options range from taxi vouchers for in town travel; to bus and rail transportation between Terrace and Prince Rupert.
During today's announcement, Terrace Mayor Carol Leclerc, noted how the improved links will strengthen ties between the communities of the Northwest.
“This improved public transit between Terrace and the Hazeltons will be another great step towards safe regional transit opportunities for our residents and those in surrounding communities,” .. “Improved transit options will strengthen ties between our communities and allow us and our neighbours to better access each other’s events and services.”
The Terrace Mayor also made note of the large amount of participation by Prince Rupert residents during the community engagement sessions of a year ago that were held to explore the need for the transit system. With Ms. Leclerc offering up a hope that one day the newly introduced service would also reach all the way to the North Coast.
The need for just such a service may soon be required as the fate of the Greyhound service in Northern BC is determined by the Passenger Transportation Board.
Since the announcement of last year from the City and its partners, the North Coast MLA has not had much to say about the absence of her home community from the Highway 16 initiative.
Perhaps from today's introduction of the new service out of Terrace, and in the current spirit of cooperation on housing, Ms. Rice will be able to persuade her new partners to help add Prince Rupert to the provincial system that now stretches from Terrace through to Prince George.
Considering the significant interest in that option from the community engagement sessions of last year and the number of Rupertites in attendance for today's Terrace event, the day that the North Coast MLA can announce a Prince Rupert to Terrace connection could very well make for a well attended and much applauded public event.
The new service from Terrace to the eastern reaches of Highway 16 launches Monday, and will be the fourth inter-community route as part of the Highway 16 Transportation plan.
The full text of the Transportation announcement by the Government of British Columbia can be reviewed here.
Some of our past notes related to the Highway 16 Transportation plan can be found below:
October 25 -- Highway 16 transit plan continues to roll out across parts of Northwest
April 7 -- Another Northwest community hops onboard the Province's Highway 16 Transit plan
January 31 -- Province of British Columbia still hopeful that North Coast hops onboard the Highway 16 shuttle bus
December 8 -- City and area stakeholders to hold to current Transition Society Transportation plan for Highway of Tears
June 16 -- MLA Rice awaits details on Province's transportation plans for Highway 16
June 15 -- Community to Community transportation listed among the items in funding for Highway 16 plan
December 15 -- Provincial Government delivers Highway 16 corridor update, still holds back on highway shuttle concept
November 27 -- Transportation Minister Stone to deliver Highway 16 options in near future
November 3 -- NDP and Liberals in lively exchange Tuesday over Highway 16 Transportation issues
October 15 -- Smithers to host Symposium focusing on transportation issues along Highway 16
February 26 -- MLA returns to Highway 16 transportation concerns during Wednesday Legislature session
You can dig a bit deeper into themes related to the Highway 16 transportation plans from our Archives on Transportation here.