Proposed wall could delay freight pick-ups

  • Oct. 2, 2009 6:00 a.m.

By Heather Ramsay-Some Sandspit freight customers are concerned that Queen Charlotte’s proposed wall around Clearbrook Trucking at Skidegate Landing will make it harder for them to get their deliveries. Moresby Island Management Committee member Don McNeice raised the issue at the Sept. 24 MIMC meeting. He was responding to a request from the Village of Queen Charlotte for support for its proposal to build a wall around the industrial site at the ferry landing. The wall will block access to the pull-out on the corner of the highway and the Skidegate Landing loop road. There is a quonset hut there and Clearbrook staff make an effort to have freight ready to be loaded on to Moresby Island customers’ pick-ups or flat beds. Once loaded, the customer can pull around the loop road and get back in line for the Kwuna sailing, often returning immediately instead of waiting for the next return trip, Mr. McNeice explained. If the wall is built, Moresby Islanders won’t be able to catch the ferry as quickly, he said. Mr. McNeice did not agree with the idea of building the wall. “Yes, it’s an ugly site, but it is a community business and it’s been there a number of years,” he said. Regional district director Evan Putterill said it’s important to balance the effect the wall would have on the freight and local businesses with the effect of the experience visitors have when they get off the ferry. “I think that business has had many years to clean up that site and they haven’t,” he said. Committee member Robert Chisholm said he thought the project was part of an ongoing battle between the freight company and the village of Queen Charlotte. “I think MIMC should stay the heck out of this,” he said. In the end, committee members agreed to write a conditional letter of support for the project, but noted that the business owner must approve of the project first. Meanwhile, Clearbrook Trucking owner Rick MacDonald believes the wall proposal is an attempt to force him off his present property. “What they want is they want us out of here,” he said. He said the village wanted to buy his property a few years ago and he suggested a price, which they thought was too high. Mr. MacDonald said the village has told him they want the freight company to move to the industrial zone of Queen Charlotte, which is at the far west end of the village. He said his company deals with 22 million pounds of freight a year and it would all have to hauled through the community, including school zones, to a yard on the west side. Then his employees would split the freight into that which heads to Sandspit, Port Clements and beyond and that would all have to be hauled through town again. He said the Ministry of Transportation already had a culvert loaded and ready to put in at what appears to be their chosen new access site, 40 metres up from the intersection, when he met with them two weeks ago. The new access is on an angle and is unsafe for pickups, flat beds or other trucks that will come to pick up freight, he said. He will also have to build a road to reach the new access if he has to close the corner access off. “If we close that access off, it’s been there more than 22 years,” he says. But cutting off the access to his current freight bay will not move his business. “It will just delay freight,” he said. The Observer also spoke with the Ministry of Transportation about the issue. Skeena district operations manager Randy Penner said the village approached them about a permit to do some improvements in the area. “We thought it was an opportune time to address the access there to improve the safety on that corner.” He said a permit for an access like that would never be given today, but there are hundreds of similar corner accesses across the province. Mr. Penner said the work done with the culvert is not etched in stone and his office is working with the business owner to improve the access from a safety perspective.

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