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Liberals eye using Churchill's closed port to ship fuel

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 15/6/2017 (616 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

OTTAWA — The federal Liberals said they’re looking at using Churchill’s port, which was closed last year, to transport airplane fuel and other necessities to the northern town.

But their opponents want a faster response for the Manitoba community, which lost its railway link because of flooding in May.

Denver-based OmniTrax, which owns the port and rail line, is “working with all levels of government,” said an emailed statement from Peter Touesnard, its chief commercial officer.

“The port will be an integral part of the solution to supply fuel and other commodities,” he wrote.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 15/6/2017 (616 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

OTTAWA — The federal Liberals said they’re looking at using Churchill’s port, which was closed last year, to transport airplane fuel and other necessities to the northern town.

But their opponents want a faster response for the Manitoba community, which lost its railway link because of flooding in May.

<p>The owners of the Hudson Bay Railway line say flooding that submerged a section of the track, shown in this handout image, and stopped service on May 23 has caused "unprecedented and catastrophic'' damage that will take months to repair.</p>

THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-OMNITRAX

The owners of the Hudson Bay Railway line say flooding that submerged a section of the track, shown in this handout image, and stopped service on May 23 has caused "unprecedented and catastrophic'' damage that will take months to repair.

Denver-based OmniTrax, which owns the port and rail line, is "working with all levels of government," said an emailed statement from Peter Touesnard, its chief commercial officer.

"The port will be an integral part of the solution to supply fuel and other commodities," he wrote.

But Transport Minister Marc Garneau said Thursday he’s "not in touch with OmniTrax at the moment."

He told the Free Press the government is looking at using ships to transport airplane fuel to the town so supply flights can continue, possibly through Montreal.

"We know that it’s something that’s been done many times before and can be done again," he said.

NDP MP Niki Ashton, who represents the riding, asked the government to take over the port.

"What Churchill is facing is a national disgrace," she told the Commons.

"The community is suddenly isolated, businesses are hurting, people are hurting. We need immediate federal action."

Garneau wouldn’t say whether it would be tough for the government to use a privately owned port.

He simply said it "takes care of the needs of Churchill."

Meanwhile, Ottawa says it’s in touch with the province and is open to providing disaster relief.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said Wednesday the province hadn’t yet made a request.

"That’s a very difficult rail line even in perfect weather conditions, so obviously, the situation is serious," he said.

Daniel Blaikie, another Manitoba New Democrat MP, said Wednesday OmniTrax is "getting a lot of money in public subsidies," but people in Churchill need immediate help.

"We just have not heard the quick response that is needed to provide assurance to people in Churchill that they are not going to be left out in the cold," he said.

dylan.robertson@freepress.mb.ca

Dylan Robertson

Dylan Robertson
Parliamentary bureau chief

In Ottawa, Dylan enjoys snooping through freedom-of-information requests and asking politicians: "What about Manitoba?"

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