The Sitka Assembly has called on the federal government to waive a law that could prevent big cruise ships from docking in Alaska this summer.

Earlier this month, Canada announced an extension of its cruise ship ban through 2022, a major blow to Alaska’s tourism industry.  That’s because the Passenger Vessel Services Act requires all foreign ships to dock at least once in a foreign port when traveling between two US destinations. When the assembly met on Tuesday (2-23-21), it passed a resolution asking Congress to temporarily waive that law, which would allow large cruise ships to circumvent Canada’s ban.

Assembly member Kevin Knox, who sponsored the resolution with member Kevin Mosher and Mayor Steven Eisenbeisz, stressed that the resolution wasn’t calling for a no-holds-barred invitation. 

“This isn’t just saying ‘open it up’ let them come however they want,” he said. “This has strong recommendations or requests that this be done, still, in an appropriate manner, asking that the CDC provide that technical advisement and guidance.”

The assembly unanimously passed the resolution. It will be sent to Sitka’s delegation in D.C. and to Governor Dunleavy’s office. On Wednesday, U.S. Representative Don Young introduced legislation proposing a temporary work around for the Passenger Vessel Services Act. It would only apply for the duration of Canada’s cruise ship ban.

In other business, the Sitka Assembly…

Postponed voting on a bulk water contract with Arctic Blue Waters, Alaska.

-Issued a proclamation supporting public awareness on the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women

-Unanimously approved the minutes of the February 4 and February 9 assembly meetings

-Unanimously approved $74,000 in supplemental appropriations for FY21 to repair the bulk water line at the Gary Paxton Industrial Park (2nd reading)

-Unanimously approved $25,000 in supplemental appropriations for FY21 to cover the remaining cost of an electric department boom truck (2nd reading)

 -Approved the promotion of Melissa Henshaw from Deputy Clerk to Community and Government Affairs Director (6-1 with member Valorie Nelson opposed)

-Authorized the Municipal Administrator to apply for the National Park
Service Planning Assistance Program (1st and final reading)