Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier John Horgan have been invited to Terrace to look at its lack of a proper transportation network.
The invitation to the two leaders was extended at the March 22 council meeting at the suggestion of councillor Sean Bujtas who keyed off of the $40 billion LNG Canada facility now being built in Kitimat.
“In the fall of 2018 LNG Canada announced the FID (final investment decision) triggering the build of the largest private sector investment in Canadian history [in] the words of our Prime Minister,” said Bujtas.
But, Bujtas continued, “the federal government has failed to recognize the impacts of such a large project on neighbouring communities.”
He noted that the Haisla Bridge in Kitimat is being replaced thanks to a $55 million federal and provincial contribution.
Further, the continued expansion of rail traffic to and from the Port of Prince Rupert is having an impact on Terrace without any financial offset, Bujtas added.
“We can no longer wait for COVID to settle down and we must push the federal government to do more,” he said.
Bujtas referred council members to a release two weeks ago from Skeena – Bulkley Valley NDP MP Taylor Bachrach which indicated the Kitimat-Stikine regional district ranked eighth on the list of federal dollars provided per resident over the past six years within 29 regional districts or regions in B.C.
The North Coast regional district received $10,862 per resident while Kitimat-Stikine $1,544.
“Yet we have the largest private sector investment in Canadian history in our backyard without any financial support from the federal government to offset impacts,” said Bujtas.
He reeled off the growing problem of unsafe road access to the Bench area, the need for a second vehicle overpass and the need for a pedestrian overpass to better connect the Southside with the rest of Terrace as immediate infrastructure needs.
The second overpass and the pedestrian overpass are both related directly to the growth in rail traffic, Bujtas said.
“I think it’s time to sit down and try to talk to the Prime Minister and the minister of infrastructure for the communities and say WTF … where’s the funds,” he concluded.
Mayor Carol Leclerc followed, emphasizing that Lanfear Hill is a top city priority, identified as such in a 2017 master transportation plan commissioned by the city.
A very preliminary price tag of $10 million was suggested as the cost of fixing Lanfear and even though a federal/provincial program would provide 90 per cent of the cost, the city didn’t have the remaining 10 per cent or $1 million, she said.
That was partially solved when the province sent the city $13 million in 2019 and 2020 for it to use as it saw fit.
An application was then submitted but the city was ultimately unsuccessful, something Leclerc said “was a real bummer especially when we had the funds available for our 10 per cent.”
“We know that we are a community in transition. We sit at the junction of Hwy 16 and [Hwy] 37 and [Hwy] 113 and nobody knows better than us about the growth that’s happening in the northwest and the impacts on our community here,” she said.
Councillor Brian Downie supported the motion as presented by Bujtas, adding that the need for infrastructure and transportation improvement is at a “crisis mode”.
“It’s clear we need outside-of-Terrace financial support for our infrastructure needs,” he said.
The invitation motion as presented by Bujtas was passed unanimously.