For The Express
A push to re-open the CN rail line west of Falher is being supported by the M.D. of Smoky River council.
Big Lakes County council received a letter at its regular meeting June 12.
“The Municipal District of Smoky River is pleased to provide a letter in support of Big Lakes County and its initiative to pursue information and investigate feasibility pertaining to the CN rail line deficiency between Falher and Dawson Creek, B.C.,” Reeve Robert Brochu says.
“The municipality recognizes the importance of effective transportation logistics as a means of regional economic growth and has experienced the economic challenges brought forth when these transportation options are not accessible.”
Smoky River council agrees that the issue be forwarded to the Northern Transportation Advocacy Bureau (NTAB) to work towards a wider-reaching regional lobby effort.
The NTAB is a joint committee of Peace Regional Economic Development Alliance (PREDA) and the Regional Economic Development Initiative for Northwest Alberta (REDI).
The committee works to highlight the need for transportation infrastructure in Alberta’s northwest to ensure the region is competitive and can efficiently access global markets.
At its regular meeting April 10, Big Lakes council approved a letter to send to affected rural municipalities.
Big Lakes wants CN Rail to re-open the line between Falher and Dawson Creek.
The county also sent letters to seek support from the M.D. of Spirit River and Saddle Hills County.
“Transportation is an issue for all economic sectors currently operating within the Peace region and a significant deterrent to economic development initiatives in the Peace,” states the letter signed by Big Lakes Reeve Richard Simard.
“While transportation logistics have been a recognized challenge for all Peace region municipalities for a long time, Big Lakes County has begun to investigate what can be done to rectify the issue.”
“NTAB is perfect for the project because it is working on transportation issues for the north, CAO Jordan Panasiuk says.
North Gilwood – Triangle Councillor Ken Matthews doesn’t want the county to take the lead on the issue.
“NTAB is a good group to push for this,” Matthews says.
He says it will take at least five years to deal with the issue.
Big Lake County Economic Development Authority and he Agricultural Service Board wrote the report.
“The brief overview generated a lot of interest and excitement in neighbouring municipalities,” says Vic Abel, director of public works.
Big Lakes council is waiting for more responses.