Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Taylor Bachrach keeps Prince Rupert's infrastructure challenges on the Front Burner in Ottawa, with Federal Minister looking towards short term and longer term options for assistance

Skeena Bulkley Valley MP Taylor Bachrach has once again advocated for assistance for Prince Rupert when it comes to the city's aging infrastructure issues, raising the topic once again on Parliament Hill, this time in a Committee session in the Capital.

In the April 18th session of the Standing Committee of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, the MP noted of some of the background towards the issue, including the December  declaration of a State of Local Emergency and the ongoing concern that the situation has towards port operations in the community.

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Taylor Bachrach at a recent Committee Session
In Ottawa speaking to the issue of Prince Rupert's infrastructure

"We were thrilled to see the BC Government come in to the tune of 65 million dollars which is part of the cost of addressing the immediate needs of the community in their water crisis. Now I asked you a question about this in the House of Commons on March 7th and I was really pleased that you ended your response with 'quote' I hope to have good news soon' and I wonder if you could start by talking about what good news might look like from a federal perspective and what soon might mean" -- MP Taylor Bachrach during Tuesday's committee session

Dominic LeBlanc, the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, 
Infrastructure and Communities responding to questions 
on funding for Prince Rupert infrastructure

Minister Dominic LeBlanc, noted of the previous discussions that he has held with the MP on the issue and noted of the unique nature that Prince Rupert represents towards the larger scope of the federal transportation infrastructure. 

"Good news would look like a further significant investment from the Government of Canada with the City of Prince Rupert in this critical project. So, Mr. Bachrach, Mr. Chair, Mr. Bachrach is absolutely correct. He and I have had  a number of occasions to discuss the importance of this project, It is anomaly that a  city with that population, would be such a critical piece of the critical infrastructure of Canada"

As part of his reply, Mr. Leblanc noted that he has heard of the importance of the port from business leaders and spoke of his previous visits to the community, which date back to the days of his Father serving as Fisheries Minister in the Seventies.

"I understand the size of the community and the size of the economic impact for the Canadian economy. It is unreasonable for the City of Prince Rupert to assume some infrastructure as crucial as a water system, full cost. You're right the province of British Columbia invested 65 million dollars which we think is positive, we obviously recognize that"

Towards the local issues, the Minister observed of a Federal program with a deadline coning in July, as well as the plans to continue to look at the issue through other  Federal programs such as the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund, noting of the recent discussions between the City and Federal government that may be of some assistance for the current concerns.

"And we'll work with the City of Prince Rupert Mr. Bachrach to make sure that they maximize the possibility of the Federal Government to allocate funds from that program ... That I hope may be the first and best place to start, as I said to you.  but It won't be the end of our work together and we're looking at other options where the Government of Canada could continue to make those investments"

Another area that the MP took up was the need for more funding for municipal governments and how to address the leasing issues that are currently in place on port lands in the Prince Rupert area and other smaller communities..

To that the Minister observed of the success of the province in advocating for Prince Rupert, as well as towards some potential solutions moving ahead.

"It speaks to the creative way that our government should partner with a city like Prince Rupert, in recognizing that the traditional Canada/BC/City of Prince Rupert programs don't meet, this is not a precedent for 100 places in the country.  

It's maybe a handful of smaller places, that are huge economic arteries for the country.

So the answer is yes, we're looking with Transport Canada at how they might work. 

But we're not going to stop there. The Deputy and I and our colleagues in the department as we reimagine new infrastructure programs ... 

So I'm hoping that we'll have a better tool kit at Infrastructure Canada to work with directly with these smaller municipalities that happen to be by geography these giant economic arteries for the whole country. 

We should have a better tool kit to respond to that, my commitment to you is to develop that with Prince Rupert in mind"

The full conversation towards the issue can be reviewed from the video below:

The full Session of the Standing Committee on Communities and Infrastructure, Communities is available here.

More notes on the work of Mr. Bachrach can be explored here.

A wider overview of the city's infrastructure themes can be reviewed here

1 comment:

  1. This was so awesome to see such great advocacy by our MP plus a really positive sounding response from the minister. Proof will be in the pudding though as they say