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EDITOR, Daily News:
On Sept. 4, 2019, the Alaska Marine Highway System announced that it would no longer be offering ferry service to Prince Rupert, British Columbia. The stated reason was because: “U.S. Customs and Border Protection is requiring AMHS to secure a Canadian law enforcement presence to protect CBP’s personnel in Prince Rupert. ... All avenues for local law enforcement were pursued, but AMHS was not able to secure the staff necessary to fulfill this requirement. ... Over the summer, AMHS worked with the City of Prince Rupert and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to meet this requirement, but neither of these entities have staff available to perform the duties necessary to comply with the new requirement.”
This announcement resulted in great disappointment for many communities and citizens throughout Southeast Alaska. After having phone discussions with Lee Brain, mayor of Prince Rupert, Nathan Cullen, federal representative in the Canadian Parliament for Prince Rupert, and government officials from Southeast Alaska, I decided to travel to Prince Rupert myself. My goal was to see if I could help facilitate a solution to the issue and maintain AMHS service to Prince Rupert.
Wednesday, I met with Corinne Bomben, chief financial officer for the City of Prince Rupert, and Blake Ward, officer in charge for the Prince Rupert Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment. Ms. Bomben and Mr. Ward confirmed they believe there are doable work-arounds to the Alaska Department of Transportation's concern over the need for access to armed protection for U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents.
While I remain in Prince Rupert I plan to meet with additional local officials. On Thursday, I will meet with Mayor Brain. On Friday, I will again meet with Mayor Brain and some of the Prince Rupert City Council members. Mayor Brain will be traveling to Juneau next week to meet with officials from the Alaska Department of Transportation. All the people that I have spoken with from B.C. are committed to working out a solution to this issue. I am very hopeful that continued AMHS service to Prince Rupert will be the end result of everyone’s efforts.
REP. DAN ORTIZ
House District 36