WINNIPEG – TRANSPORTATION – The Government of Canada is fully committed to the restoration of the Hudson Bay Rail Line, a critical piece of transportation infrastructure for nearly 30,000 people from First Nations as well as other communities in northern Manitoba and the Kivalliq region of Nunavut. The rail line brings security for food, fuel, and jobs to the entire region.
Today, the Honourable Jim Carr, Minister of International Trade Diversification, and the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Intergovernmental and Northern Affairs and Internal Trade, announced that the Arctic Gateway Group Limited Partnership has purchased the Hudson Bay Rail Company, the Hudson Bay Port Company and the Churchill Marine Tank Farm from OmniTRAX Inc. The Ministers made the announcement on behalf of the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada.
“I am so pleased to announce the start of the restoration of the rail line linking Churchill and the surrounding communities to the rest of Canada. I want Canadians living in Northern Manitoba and Nunavut to know that the Government of Canada understands the importance of the line to their daily lives. Thank you for your patience and to the buying group for committing to begin work on the repairs,” announced Jim Carr, Minister of International Trade Diversification.
“The restoration of the rail line is important for the people of Churchill and the surrounding communities who depend on it for their food supply and for the export of their grain. Our government made a commitment to the residents of northern Manitoba and we have delivered. I applaud the work of all those involved to resolve this long-standing issue and look forward to the re-establishment of rail service,” said Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Intergovernmental and Northern Affairs and Internal Trade.
Arctic Gateway Group is a historic private, public partnership comprised of Missinippi Rail Limited Partnership and Fairfax Financial Holdings & AGT Limited Partnership. The consortium brings together First Nations and community ownership and support, along with significant private sector leadership and global investment capacity, and further, short line rail operation and shipping experience.
The Government of Canada supports the Arctic Gateway Group in coordinating repairs to the Hudson Bay rail line. Construction crews have been mobilized and work will begin immediately. All efforts will be made to restore the rail service before winter 2018. In the meantime, the safety and security of residents remain Canada’s priority and current community support programs for food, fuel and economic development will remain in place until rail service resumes.
This collaboration represents a progressive approach towards redefining relationships with First Nations and Inuit people in Canada. It also reinforces the significance of the rail line and its importance in the lives of the people in northern Manitoba.
“The progressive, collaborative approach taken to achieve the restoration of Hudson Bay Railway line represents a redefining moment in our relationships with First Nations and Inuit people in Canada. The full restoration of the railway line will allow for economic prosperity in the region for years to come and for residents to once again have the opportunity to connect with friends and family, grow businesses, and create middle-class jobs,” states Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development.
“We are told we are in the Reconciliation Phase of Canada/First Nation relations. In relation to economic development, this must mean fostering positive economic development experiences for our First Nation communities. Canada’s support on this transaction is consistent with a reconciliation approach to First Nation relations. This is how it is done: not by saying ‘trust us’, but by putting up the support necessary to allow us to build the foundations necessary to be successful.
“Canada’s support on this transaction allows us to stand up alongside our partners with a defensible deal; defensible to our communities in respect of the risk they are taking on; defensible to the people that depend on this rail service as a lifeline; and defensible to the broader public in ensuring a sound commercial foundation accompanies the rejuvenation of these assets.
“We thank Prime Minister Trudeau and his government, and especially Ministers Carr, Bains, and Morneau for their recognition of what is needed to make real and lasting positive change to our communities, and the conviction to back this recognition up with action,” says Grand Chief Arlen Dumas, Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs.
“We are excited about the potential this gateway infrastructure project will bring for the buying group including our First Nations and communities partners. Entering into this transaction completes discussions which started back in late 2017 to repair, rehabilitate and operate the Churchill line. All those involved agree that this generational project has the potential to create northern jobs as well as ensure that northern communities have the goods and supplies they require, while at the same time restoring and increasing trade and export capacity for natural resources and agricultural commodities through a North Gateway. Fairfax/ AGT and the Consortium of First Nations and Communities are committed to working with the Government of Canada, Provinces and the Private Sector to build an Arctic Gateway for Canada to the world. Phase one of the project will be to repair the rail line, undertake safety and rehabilitation upgrades to the Port and the Railway assets. We will commence the repairs and do all we can to restore service expeditiously and safely. We are racing against time. We will immediately begin our work to make the broader project also a reality,” commented Paul Rivett, Director of Arctic Gateway Group.