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BC commits to Lax Kw’alaams access improvements

The BC government and Lax Kw’alaams have signed an agreement aimed at improving access to the North Coast First Nations community.

Transportation Minister Todd Stone says the Memorandum of Understanding will mean engineering work can get under way to pave Tuck Inlet Road which provides access to Lax Kw’alaams.

The current gravel road connecting the ferry dock and the village is over 17 kilometres long.

Mayor Garry Reece says the route wasn’t much more than an upgraded logging road in 1997 and community members had to brave two-foot potholes, and thick dust during the summers.

Reece says while these improvements will make a huge difference for the community, he would ultimately like to see a road directly to Prince Rupert and a subsidy on the ferry.

Reece says responsibility for the road will also be turned over to the province, which will give the band a huge maintenance savings.

The engineering and paving of the road should be complete by next year, with a ballpark cost of around $10 million.

The government is also providing $400,000 a year to increase the number of round-trips the ferry makes between Prince Rupert and the village from 9 to 14.

The extra runs will start as soon as possible.

The ministry will also kick in funding to refurbish the Spirit of Lax Kw’alaams in 2016-2017.

Reece also emphasizes that negotiations with the province have been on-going, and are not related in anyway to LNG developments.

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