Community Outreach: Prince Rupert

Prince Rupert Port Contribution Funds Community Hall Access Ramp
The British Columbia coastal community of Oona River is enjoying improved access to its largest public space thanks to support from the Prince Rupert Port Authority’s Community Investment Fund.
Built in 1978, the Oona River Community Hall serves as the central gathering place for community events and sporting activities. Following a celebration of Oona River’s 100-year heritage in 2006, the community was able to raise more than C$200,000 to significantly improve the interior of the building, which includes a 30-person conference room, public washrooms and laundry facilities, and a one-bedroom apartment that is rented out to visitors. Among the improvements was a barrier-free access ramp and entrance to the Community Hall that could accommodate people with limited mobility.
Fundraising efforts included grants from the Enabling Accessibility Fund (Federal Ministry of Employment and Social Development), Prince Rupert Port Authority, Northern Savings Credit Union as well as numerous local initiatives and volunteer hours. All wood used in the project was milled in Oona River.
"We were overwhelmed with the support we received for this big improvement project, and our community hall is fully-equipped to serve the needs of Oona River for decades to come," said Mark Rudderham, president of the Oona River Community Association. "The addition of unrestricted access to the building was an important piece of our plan, and we’re grateful for the support we received from the Port of Prince Rupert to complete it this year."
The access ramp project reflects the changing demographic of Oona River residents and visitors, and brings the community hall into compliance with current building codes. Each year the community sees visitors from across the Prince Rupert region and is a popular destination for outdoor recreation including kayaking and fishing. It also serves as a destination for students of Northwest Community College’s Applied Coastal Ecology Program on annual field trips to study the unique aquatic and terrestrial environment.
"Many of Prince Rupert’s neighboring communities are only accessible by water, and rely on the efforts of their small resident populations to fund and administer improvements to their facilities and services," said Ken Veldman, the port authority’s director of public affairs. "Oona River is a perfect example of this small-town spirit, and we were happy to contribute from our Community Investment Fund to see this project completed."
The Community Investment Fund is financed by a share of the port’s annual net income that has been dedicated to improving the quality of life for residents of the North Coast region of British Colombia. Since 2010, donations totaling approximately C$8 million have been disbursed from the fund to more than 50 local projects aimed at fulfilling sports, recreation, performing arts, health, education, the environment and other community needs.