The Alaska Marine Highway System ferries will no longer be running to Prince Rupert as of Oct. 1 due to a failure to secure an RCMP presence for unarmed American border personal in Prince Rupert. (Michael Penn/The Juneau Empire via AP)

Prince Rupert loses Alaska ferry service over armed security issue

On Oct. 1, the Alaska Marine Highway System will no longer provide service from Ketchikan to Rupert

A failure to secure an armed RCMP presence to protect American personnel has lead to the closure of the Ketchikan-Prince Rupert ferry service.

On Wednesday, the Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS) announced that service between the two cities will be officially closed as of Oct. 1.

In March, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents notified AMHS that they needed to secure a Canadian law enforcement presence for U.S. ferries calling on Prince Rupert.

“All avenues for local law enforcement were pursued, but AMHS was not able to secure the staff necessary to fulfill this requirement. The new requirement specifies a Canadian law enforcement presence with the ability to make arrests in Canada, which is not a duty that AMHS staff are able to perform,” AMHS stated in their press release.

Despite the announcement, Prince Rupert’s mayor, Lee Brain, remains optimistic that it will only be a temporary closure.

The issue is a multi-jurisdiction, multi-stakeholder problem that spans two different countries. Mayor Brain said there are some solutions up in the air but he could not provide any specifications until he gets all parties in one room.

“I don’t believe this is the end of the ferry service to Prince Rupert. I believe this issue can be solved. The demand for cross-border tourism and potential trade opportunities continue to be at the forefront of this conversation. I believe now is the time to solve this issue to ensure long term ferry service between our two nations,” Brain stated in an email.

Brain will be heading up to Juneau the week of Sept. 16 to meet with officials in the Governor’s Office and Alaska’s Department of Transportation.

The U.S. government cannot employ American guards on Canadian soil, requiring a need for the armed RCMP officers. The U.S. Government said they will cover the costs for the extra staff.

“The City of Prince Rupert explored all options to provide armed support to customs for the Alaska Marine Highway System. Unfortunately, given our remote location and existing police capacity, it would have necessitated hiring additional full time police officers, an expense that neither the Alaska Marine Highway System or the City are able to support financially,” Brain stated.

READ MORE: Alaska ferry service may have to pay armed RCMP at Prince Rupert terminal

Other monetary issues are also plaguing the ferry service to Prince Rupert.

Early in August, Alaska’s governor, Mike Dunleavy, signed a bill finalizing the state’s budget for the fiscal year including a $5 million cut to AMHS. The route from Ketchikan to Prince Rupert was identified as one of the potential services to close.

In addition, there are jurisdiction issues regarding structural upgrades needed for the AMHS dock in Prince Rupert in order to continue service.

In regard to the budget constrains, Brain stated no decision has been made as to which routes will be cut, however potential solutions have been identified to help with operational costs for the Prince Rupert ferry route. He is also looking to solve the issues surrounding the Buy American program that prevent the city from buying local for these upgrades.

READ MORE: Severe budget cuts could mean ending service to the only Canadian stop on the Alaska Marine Highway


Jenna Cocullo | Journalist
Jenna Cocullo 
Send Jenna email
Like the The Northern View on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Village might earn $384,000 in camp deal

The Village of Burns Lake is set to receive hundreds of thousands… Continue reading

Helping the Burns Lake community for 13 years

In its 13 years of existence, the Burns Lake and District Community… Continue reading

TV signals restored, rebroadcast society says

Television reception for Burns Lake and Southside residents with regular TVs was… Continue reading

BC Moose Tracker app aids in management

There are smartphone apps that compile user data on restaurants, bars and… Continue reading

Nations Cannabis building up

Construction continues on the Nations Cannabis production facility, located near Decker Lake,… Continue reading

‘It’s almost surreal’: B.C. fire chief, sidekick Sammy recap rescue mission in Bahamas

Chief Larry Watkinson and Sam the disaster dog spent 8 days assisting a search and rescue team

Kamloops high school evacuated after receiving threat

Police have not released any further details into what the threat includes

Woman held at gunpoint during carjacking in UBC parkade

University RCMP say the vehicle is still missing, and two suspects are at large

VIDEO: Angry B.C. cyclist starts shaming dangerous drivers online

‘You motorists deserve all your costs and misery’

‘Time to take action:’ Children advocates call for national youth suicide strategy

Council wants Ottawa to make reporting of suicides and attempted suicides mandatory for data collection

Canadian inflation decelerates to 1.9% as gas prices weaken

August was the sixth straight month that price growth was 1.9 per cent or higher

Defense says burden of proof not met in double murder case against Victoria father

Closing statements begin in trial for man accused of killing daughters Christmas 2017

B.C. dog breeder banned again after 46 dogs seized

The SPCA seized the animals from Terry Baker, 66, in February 2018

Surrey mom allegedly paid $400,000 for son in U.S. college bribery scam

Xiaoning Sui, 48, was arrested in Spain on Monday night

Most Read