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The Churchill train station - Date unknown Photographer unknown.
1 December 2017
Feds Commit $2.7 Million in Funding for Churchill But No News on Rail Line Repairs


Ottawa Ontario - The federal government committed $2.7 million to Churchill Friday to help create jobs and support the local economy while the northern Manitoba community tries to cope without a rail line, but no new announcements were made on when, or how, that line will be repaired.
 
Minister of Natural Resources Jim Carr announced the funding, which will be provided to the Churchill and Region Economic Development Fund, in a news release on Friday.
 
Carr said it showed the federal government was committed to the people of northern Manitoba.
 
Spring flooding washed out sections of the railway earlier this year, leaving Churchill without any ground transportation access.
 
Food prices dramatically rose in the town of about 750 on the shore of Hudson Bay, 1,000 kilometres north of Winnipeg, and business in the tourism sector dropped.
 
Hopes for the railway's quick repair disappeared as Omnitrax, the Denver-based company that owns the Hudson Bay Railway and Port of Churchill, and the federal government turned to lawyers and courts to find out which party is responsible for the repairs.
 
In November, Omnitrax filed a notice of intent to submit a claim under Chapter 11 of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which allows a business to sue a government without first going through the country's court systems.
 
The same day as the Omnitrax challenge, the federal government filed a lawsuit against the company for breach of contract.
 
Ottawa is demanding $18 million, plus interest.
 
A few days later, Toronto-based investment company Fairfax announced its plans to join two groups representing northern communities and First Nations which have been trying to purchase the rail line and the port.
 
Still No Timeline for Rail Repairs
 
Even with the new major player, the timeline for the rail's repair is unknown.
 
New funds should help ease the pressure while the community continues to face uncertainty and demonstrate the wide range of opportunities that exist, said Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Navdeep Bains in the news release.
 
The feds pointed to other actions already taken, including extending the Nutrition North Canada subsidy, which helps with food costs.
 
Previous money for the economic development fund also helped five other projects which will bring jobs, grow food, and support a new winter ice road, the news release said.
 
A local bakery and the Churchill Home Hardware store each received $25,000 to help with incremental business expenses due to rail service disruption.
 
The federal government added it will continue to work with the province to make sure there's enough fuel in the northern Manitoba community to get through the winter.
 
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