Victoria: Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Todd Stone has issued the following statement on the Highway 16 transportation symposium taking place in Smithers:

“Today, the First Nations Health Authority and the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure are co-hosting a transportation symposium to engage with First Nations communities and local government representatives to address the transportation challenges along the Highway 16 corridor.

“This one-day symposium is an excellent opportunity to bring all of the communities and representatives together to engage in a productive dialogue and to focus on transportation solutions along the corridor. This collaborative process is an important step in finding the best possible solutions.

“Representatives from First Nations communities located within the Prince Rupert to Prince George Highway 16 corridor, Aboriginal organizations, along with representatives from regional districts, local government organizations, and provincial ministries have been invited to participate in this important dialogue.

“We remain committed to working together with community representatives to find practical and sustainable solutions to help provide safe travel options for citizens living in remote communities along Highway 16.

“We are committed to developing practical services to improve transportation on the nearly 800 km stretch of highway between Prince Rupert and Prince George. This area is home to 26 First Nations communities and 13 municipalities. The focus needs to be on improving transportation service along the Highway 16 corridor for those who need it the most.

“The collaborative discussions will be focused on:

  • Sharing information about services that are available and what approaches could be undertaken to improve and or expand medical and non-medical travel along the Highway 16 corridor from Prince Rupert to Prince George;
  • Building on the results from the recently conducted First Nations Transportation Survey along with lessons learned from previous community engagement, surveys and reports;
  • Identifying First Nations and community solutions to increase availability and access to practical, sustainable and safe community transportation models.

“I’m confident this work will lead to improvements to existing services and identify practical, community-based transportation solutions that will improve access and service for communities along the corridor.”