government is extending funding for one year so that CN Rail can continue operating
the Algoma Central Rail (ACR) passenger line between Sault Ste. Marie and
Minister Lisa Raitt was in Sault Ste. Marie on April 14 to make the
pleased to announce the Government of Canada will extend the $2.2-million
federal subsidy to CN Rail until March 2015 to ensure its continued operation
for a year,” she said. “This is now your time for local stakeholders to come
together and figure out a long-term solution that has to happen in order to
give you certainty.”
government, which has provided the subsidy since 1977, indicated in its 2013
Economic Action Plan that it would not continue the funding. In February, CN
Rail announced its intention to cease operation of the line by March 31,
sending stakeholders reeling. CN later extended that deadline to April 29 after
lobby efforts by local stakeholders.
Raitt advised the
stakeholder group to use the one-year extension to look for long-term solutions
to keep the line going, rather than return to government on a year-to-year
“That’s not a way
to have a business,” she said. “It’s not a way to grow economic development.”
Sault Ste. Marie
Mayor Debbie Amaroso said it would be important in the coming months for
stakeholders to buckle down and work together to form a viable plan of action.
“This is now our
time to begin to work together to continue to make sure the needs of the region
are very clear to CN,” she said. “And we don’t come hat in hand to CN with
problems; we have solutions.”
Sault Ste. Marie
CEO Joe Fratesi, who chairs the Algoma Passenger Rail Stakeholder Committee,
commended Raitt for coming to the Sault to make the announcement in person.
letter-writing campaign, the group had been lobbying to meet with Raitt prior
to the April 29 deadline to secure an extension of the funding. In March, the
group commissioned BDO Canada to collect data and do an analysis of the
economic impact of the train service.
from that study, released last week, indicated that the line “generates
significant economic activity which sustains hundreds of jobs and yields
millions of dollars in tax revenue for the government,” according to an
That information was shared with Transport
Canada and will be released publicly later this month.