Today, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Todd Stone visited the Lax Kw’alaams community near Prince Rupert to sign an important memorandum of understanding.
This MOU will set in motion the necessary engineering work to pave Tuck Inlet Road, which provides access to the Lax Kw’alaams community.
The ministry also has announced that it will provide funding to refurbish the Spirit of Lax Kw’alaams in 2016-17, and it will provide funding to support additional ferry trips each week between Aero Point (Prince Rupert side) and Tuck Inlet, to improve access for local residents and businesses.
“We are committed to improving road and ferry access to the Lax Kw’alaams community,” said Stone. “By ensuring safe and reliable access to the community, we’re supporting local traffic and helping encourage future economic development in the area, which will benefit the Lax Kw’alaams and all British Columbians.”
“In 1997, Tuck Inlet Road was not more than an upgraded logging road from the community to Tuck Inlet. Our trucks and cars had to withstand the two-feet potholes and dusty road, which had a tremendous effect on what we could bring into the community such as food, building material and general supplies,” said Lax Kw’alaams Mayor Garry Reece. “Today we can celebrate the commitment that the Province of B.C. is making to all of us to have this most-critical transportation system upgraded and paved. This is a long-awaited dream.”
The Lax Kw’alaams community is accessed via ferry from Prince Rupert, which docks at Tuck Inlet. The current gravel road connecting the ferry dock with the village is approximately 17.5 km long. The road was last upgraded in 2006.
The MOU sets in motion the necessary engineering work to pave the existing gravel surface on Tuck Inlet Road. The ministry will also look at what safety and bridge improvements can be made on Tuck Inlet Road. The ministry has begun engineering work on the project, with the plan to enter into a project agreement which would see paving begin next year.
The Spirit of Lax Kw’alaams ferry currently makes nine round trips per week. The B.C. government will provide $400,000 a year to fund an additional five round trips to increase service to 14 round trips per week. The new schedule is slated to start later this summer while the ministry begins planning to refit the ferry for 2016-17. Additionally, the ministry will engage in discussions with the First Nations about a future replacement for the Spirit of Lax Kw’alaams.
These projects support a priority for action in B.C. on the Move, the Province’s 10-year transportation plan, to work with First Nations on projects that support economic development on their lands.
B.C. on the Move is government’s new 10-year plan for the improvement of the province’s transportation network. The actions prioritized in B.C. on the Move will enhance safety, grow the economy, maintain and replace aging infrastructure, and support trade for B.C.’s expanding resource sectors through Canada’s Asia-Pacific Gateway. Over the next three years, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure will invest up to $2.5 billion to improve B.C.’s transportation network.
B.C. on the Move is available online at: http://engage.gov.bc.ca/transportationplan/