The cat has certainly got the cream with a $65 million facilities increase for Prince Rupert, revealed by Premier David Eby, on March 17.
The financing statement from the Critical Community Infrastructure fund, has actually jokingly been described as “the cat in the bag” is a direct action from the Province to the aging water supply and underground pipeline facilities crisis in the city, which triggered numerous water pipe breaks and a state of regional emergency situation in Dec. 2022.
“Prince Rupert is seeing huge economic growth because of the port. We are building today for a stronger tomorrow. So today, I’m very proud to announce that our government is [providing] $65 million to upgrade Prince Rupert’s aging water distribution system to help ensure reliable resilient water service for people and industry in the community,” Eby said.
“$65 million — it’s a big cat,” Mayor Herb Pond, informed The Northern View, describing “the cat in the bag” remarks made by authorities and political leaders at an NDP charity event the night prior to the main statement was made.
“Today’s announcement allows us to tackle the most critical areas of water infrastructure and secure our supply for decades to come,” Pond said. “Securing our water-supply infrastructure is essential to securing one of Canada’s busiest trade corridors.”
The statement, made at the Museum of Northern B.C. saw Eby, Municipal Affairs Minister Anne Kang, Skeena Bulkley MP Taylor Bachrach, North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice, Pond, Port Edward Mayor Knut Bjorndal, in addition to city councillors and others, praise the significant financing statement.
Eby said Prince Rupert can seem like it is a world far from the lower mainland.
“It is literally the end of the road, Highway 16, but the gateway to the world for British Columbia and for our country. It is the third busiest seaport in North America, the fastest growing and no doubt because you offer the shortest and most direct route to Asia.”
The Premier said while the city is surrounded by water, it’s paradoxical that it was a water lack concern was the factor for his see.
“Everyone in the community deserves a reliable system of drinking water. It’s basic, but for Prince Rupert residents, that hasn’t always been the case. Much of the city’s infrastructure is aging and in need of renewal.”
Eby made an unique note thanking the city employees who carried the water crisis repair and maintenance throughout the previous holiday and said they saved the day, however he understands that is not a sustainable solution to the issue.
“We can’t be responding to crisis after crisis in the water system. These are risks we can’t take, both for the economic security, the physical security and safety of Prince Rupert residents but also, in fact, the entire country,” the provincial leader said.
“It’s time to make up for decades of underinvestment by previous provincial governments, deferral of necessary maintenance and repairs. We see the cost that comes with that. We couldn’t afford short-sighted thinking then and we certainly can’t afford it now,” he said.
Minister of Municipal Affairs Anne Kang resolved the crowd explaining the $65 million is extra to the city’s part of the $1 billion Growing Community Fund revealed recently, of which Prince Rupert will get $4 million to put towards facilities.
“More people are choosing to live, to work, to study in B.C. because of the opportunities that families can have here in our beautiful British Columbia. This has caused an increased demand to our infrastructure here, which puts a strain on local resources,” Kang said. “Local governments are working hard to ensure communities are welcoming and vibrant, and we are here to support them.”
“I just can’t wait to see how Prince Rupert will be choosing their projects to support the vibrancy and the livability of their community. I know there’s just so many wonderful things happening here,” she said.
North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice said she is grateful for everybody’s efforts in protecting financing and treatments to the problems at hand.
“I just want to say a few words, that as a resident of Prince Rupert, I can tell you the impact that this funding will have not only in securing our drinking water system but also reducing the entire stress on our community,” she said.
“This is a huge lift for our community,” Rice concluded.
Mayor Herb Pond described fighting the facilities problems as not a race however a marathon where the baton has actually been passed from one council to another, with this existing council bring it throughout the goal to reach the win.
The mayor revealed his enjoyment at the statement and the advantages it would give the neighborhood.
“Last night at an event, the premier was getting close to letting it out and he actually said “you know I’m getting too close to letting the cat out of the bag.” That ended up being the example all night long — the cat. At one point, I said I’ve seen the cat. It’s a great cat. It’s a quite huge cat. $65 million is so huge that I believe we lose our understanding of what $65 million is. Quite honestly, it is without a doubt the biggest financial investment that British Columbia has actually ever made in Prince Rupert in a single minute,” the city mayor said.
K-J Millar | Editor and Multimedia Journalist
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