CPA Public Affairs
September 2017

Access to Propane Secured but Repairing Rail Line Remains a Challenge

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While the northern Manitoba community of Churchill is safe in the knowledge that it will have enough propane supply to last through the winter, the restoration of rail service is still a work in progress. 

Through the work of the CPA, member company Stittco Energy, and the Manitoba Government, arrangements have been made for storage tanks to be provided to the northern community. The tanks will store enough propane supply to last until June 2018.

For the CPA, it is critical that repairs to the rail line are made as soon as possible. The CPA considers 
Hudson Bay Railway as northern Manitoba’s version of the Trans-Canada Highway and provides important access for goods to northern Manitoba. The CPA has been on record encouraging all parties to ensure the restoration of the Hudson Bay Railway. 

On September 8, the Hon. Jim Carr, Minister of Natural Resources and Manitoba’s senior voice in the federal cabinet, indicated the federal government’s commitment to the restoration of rail service to Churchill. However, Minister Carr said the government was deeply concerned that "OmniTRAX Inc. has not yet commenced repairs and that further delay may jeopardize the ability to complete repairs before winter. As per its 2008 agreement, the Government of Canada committed to provide financial support to Hudson Bay Railway Company in exchange for their agreement to repair, maintain and operate the rail service through to Churchill until 2029."

The federal government said that if OmniTRAX is not willing to satisfy its contractual obligations, it will facilitate discussion for the transfer of the rail line to a new owner and will work with that new owner to restore rail service. The government added that Canada is fully prepared to act quickly to provide such support, provided that the assets are transferred at a reasonable price, has support of First Nations and communities along the rail line route and that the new owner has a viable business plan. 

The CPA will continue to provide updates as this issue evolves. 


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