CN Rail Not a Good Corporate Citizen – Mayor Keith Hobbs

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Mayor Keith Hobbs has dumped his social media presence.
Mayor Keith Hobbs has dumped his social media presence.

CN Rail Proposal on James Street Bridge Rejected

THUNDER BAY – The City of Thunder Bay has rejected an offer from CN Rail with the James Street Swing Bridge. Mayor Hobbs says that “CN has not been acting like a good corporate citizen.”

The Mayor and City Manager presented the city’s stand today at a media conference at City Hall.

Council met for five hours on Monday in a closed session, and voted unanimously to reject the CN proposal that would have seen the City of Thunder Bay put up $1.5 million toward the repairs and maintainance of the James Street Bridge.

“We have no alternative but to take the time for this in-depth legal review,” added Mayor Hobbs. “We are frustrated on behalf of the residents of the City of Thunder Bay and Fort William First Nation who rely on the bridge to travel between our two community for work, business, and day-to-day activities”.

CN Rail Not a Good Corporate Citizen – Mayor Keith Hobbs

Mayor Keith Hobbs states that "CN is not a good corporate citizen".
Mayor Keith Hobbs states that “CN is not a good corporate citizen”.

“CN owns, operates and controls the bridge, they are solely responsible for the decision to keep the bridge closed or to reopen it to vehicles and pedestrians”.

Key Dates

  • March 29, 1905 – Town of Fort William and Grand Trunk Pacific Railway enter an agreement to make Thunder Bay a major western terminus of operations
  • March 28, 1906 – Town of Fort William and Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Company execute an agreement pertaining to the construction of the bridge, which includes the stipulation that Grand Trunk – which subsequently became CN – is responsible to “maintain the bridge in perpetuity”
  • Oct. 24, 2013 – the City offers to cooperate with CN on a structural assessment of the bridge [no response has been forthcoming from CN]
  • Oct. 29, 2013 – Fire damages the bridge. The cause of the fire is unknown.
  • Nov. 1, 2013 – CN reopens the bridge to train traffic only. It remains closed to vehicular traffic.
  • July 15, 2014 – CN makes public its offer with options and conditions to open the bridge within weeks to vehicular and pedestrian traffic – these include a full and final release of CN from the 1906 agreement


July 21, 2014 – City Council rejects CN’s offer and commits to a more detailed and broader legal review