British Columbia, Alaska officials fail to reach ferry deal

KETCHIKAN, Alaska — A British Columbia mayor and Alaska's top transportation official have been unable to reach an agreement over a firearms regulation that could end ferry service, officials said.

Alaska Transportation Commissioner John MacKinnon met with Mayor Lee Brain of Prince Rupert Tuesday, The Ketchikan Daily News reported Wednesday.

The Alaska Marine Highway System ferry service to Prince Rupert is scheduled to end Sept. 30.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection requires its officials to carry their own firearms on foreign soil or be in the presence of armed local law enforcement officers.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police does not have enough staff in the port city to comply with the regulation, officials said.

The effort to reach an agreement is ongoing, said Meadow Bailey, Alaska transportation department spokesperson.

"If an agreement can be reached, AMHS could resume service to Prince Rupert this winter," Bailey said in an email.

Independent state Rep. Dan Ortiz of Ketchikan met last week with Canadian government and city officials, including Brain and Nathen Cullen, Prince Rupert's federal representative. They expressed a desire for the marine highway system to maintain ferry service to British Columbia, Ortiz said.

Brain "is going to put forward a very, very viable offer which will speak to the Canadians' desire to see this service continue," Ortiz said. "So it will really, truly be in the hands of the (governor's) administration."

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Information from: Ketchikan (Alaska) Daily News, http://www.ketchikandailynews.com

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