THUNDER BAY – Last night Fort William First Nation was held hostage by the lack of progress by CN Rail and the City of Thunder Bay. An accident on Highway 61 left residents from both Thunder Bay and Fort William First Nation left with long traffic lines. The James Street Bridge remains closed over a year since a fire in October 2013.
Traffic accidents on Mission Road, and Highway 61 can close access to Fort William First Nation, and make it far more difficult for fire and ems access to the community.
There have been repairs made to the bridge that allow CN to continue to run trains over the centre of the structure. However action that would impact change for pedestrian and vehicle traffic remain at a virtual standstill.
There appears little interest at both the provincial level and at the federal level for a solution.
While the federal government has stepped up and put the funds forward for a bridge to a First Nation in British Columbia, there continues to be no action from the federal government, or from the Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay Rainy River, John Rafferty to impact the impasse.
Perhaps the long-term solution is to plan for a new bridge and leave CN Rail to their own bridge?
The James Street Bridge is far more than aa infrastructure piece that needs to be replaced. The James Street Bridge has become a symbol of the wide gap between the City of Thunder Bay and the First Nations people in our city and region.
The lack of action – real action – not discussions or words have widened the gap between Fort William First Nation and Thunder Bay.
It is time for real action. The only question is who will stand up and move this to a solution.
Thunder Bay is seeking that CN Rail maintain the bridge. CN Rail is looking for a solution. Fort William First Nation is seeking a solution.
Both the economic costs and human costs to Fort William First Nation and the City of Thunder Bay continue to grow.