Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Mayor Brain hopes to arrange for stakeholder meeting on range of Alaska Marine Highway issues

The MV Malaspina at the AMSH dock in Prince Rupert

Mayor Lee Brain provided for his long promised  update on the status of discussions related to the Alaska Marine Highway Service to Prince Rupert on Monday evening.

As we noted back in May, the Mayor had stated at the time that he would offer up some notes on the issues of the service within a couple of weeks.

Now heading towards the end of July, Mr. Brain explored the complex nature and layers of engagement on the topic for Council.

With the Mayor making note as to how it is a multi pronged issue that spans several jurisdictions and how he and Mr. Robert Venables, the Executive Director of the southeast Alaska Conference are seeking to organize a multi stakeholder, in person meeting among all those involved with the Marine Highway system.

Mayor Brain is working with
the Robert Venables the chair
of the SE Alaska conference
on ferry related issues
Should they be successful in that quest, the meeting would include the Governor's Office, the Alaska Transportation Department, someone from the AMHS Marine overview group, as well as participation  from the SE Alaska Conference and the City of Prince Rupert.

Also to be included will be BC officials and other officials from the consul  general office.

As part of his comments that came towards the end of Monday's council session, the Mayor observed that with such a large collection to bring together, the challenge has been trying to organize such an event, highlighting how no one has actually ever met in the same room to discuss solutions.

"The challenge has been trying to organize that many people, every one has said that they are interested to meet in person; because the problem with this issue is that no one has ever really met physically in the same room to discuss solutions. After talking to the Governor's office, they are certainly open to new approaches and a new change to how the Marine System operates into Prince Rupert"

Mr Brain also outlined that once the hoped for meeting date is organized, the community will be updated.

He also noted he will be in Sitka Alaska for a Southeast Conference meeting in September, something he attends every year, at that meeting there may be more discussions on the theme of the Ferry service to discuss some solutions from the Alaska side.

As part of his overview of the current state of the ferry service he observed that while there may be some sailing reductions found this year; he is certain that if they can get everyone in the same room,  that some solutions can be presented to provide for a longer term solution to the entire ferry system.

The gates to the AMHS Terminal at Fairview may remain closed in
January and February should a proposed schedule change be adopted by
the Alaska service

Earlier this month we noted that with the new fall and winter schedule currently up for review by the Alaska Marine Highway Service, the prospect of a similar service interruption as that of last year could be on the horizon for Prince Rupert.

The proposed schedule for 2019-2020 would see reduced sailings in November and December of this year and again in March and April of 2020. Also under consideration is the prospect of No sailings for the months of January and February of 2020.

Mr. Brain wrapped up his presentation by noting that he and Mr. Venables "are the two people who are probably the most strongly advocating for this, but have the least jurisdiction over the issue.

He stressed that the key to solving the problem is to bring all the stakeholders into the same room to discuss permanent solutions to move the topic forward long term.

Beyond the concerns over the level of service and sailings between Prince Rupert and Ketchikan, there is also the need for replacement of the dock and other improvements for the Prince Rupert Terminal facility at Fairview, a topic that has made for a long running story on the North Coast.

For more background on the range of issues facing the Alaska Marine Highway System see our archive page here.

You can review the Mayor's update for Council from the City's Video Archive starting at the thirty seven minute mark.

Further notes related to Monday's City Council session can be found from our Council Timeline feature, while a review of our items of interest from it can be explored here.

A wider overview of past Council discussions is available from our Council Discussion archive page.

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