Back on ‘track’

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Big Lakes County has joined a new organization to advocate for better railway networks and service in northern Alberta to get local products to market.
At its regular meeting March 8, council decided to become a member of the Community Rail Advocacy Alliance for a $2,000 fee.
Council also appointed Joussard Councillor Richard Mifflin as the Big Lakes council representative on the alliance that was created in January 2023.
At a recent Rural Municipalities of Alberta regional meeting, the CRAA was mentioned and Mifflin suggested it be presented to council, said Brett Hawken, director of community and protective services.
The CRAA was formed with a vision to provide better service to transport freight to and from northern Alberta and the rest of the province.
Reeve Robert Nygaard says council supports a group that has a passion and a drive to build small and rural communities in the north.
“The County is proud to be part of an alliance with our fellow municipalities that advocates for change for the betterment of our communities,” Nygaard says.
“We want to share our resources with the world, but we need reliable, equitable rail systems that support our participation.
“We do this in support of our industries in the county and up north for the provision for better rail service.
“Improved rail service will allow businesses in our community the opportunity to ensure their products get to market faster and more efficiently.”
Other alliance members so far include the Town of Peace River, Northern Sunrise County, the M.D. of Peace, Peace Region Economic Development Alliance, the Town of Slave Lake, the M.D. of Greenview, Saddle Hills County, the County of Northern Lights, the County of Grande Prairie, the City of Grande Prairie, Clear Hills County, the Town of Whitecourt, Mackenzie County, the Town of High Level, Athabasca County, the Town of Edson, Alberta Wheat and Barley Commission, Central Alberta Economic Partnership and the Northern Transportation Bureau.
Hawken added the CRAA plans to have two to four general general meetings a year, according to Northern Lights Reeve Terry Ungarian, one of the executive members.
They are hoping this is not a long-term group and it can get some “traction and action” done in the next one to two years and then disband if successful, Hawken says.
It is hoped many voices from unified councils will bringing a strong voice to government and the rail industry to better service.

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