A Letter From Joe To Lisa

A letter that was sent to Transport Canada Minister Lisa Raitt yesterday by Joe Fratesi, Chair of the ACR Passenger Service Stakeholders Working Group and CAO for the City of Sault Ste. Marie:


Dear Honourable Lisa Raitt,
On behalf of the ACR Passenger Service Stakeholder Working Group, we thank you and MP Bryan Hayes and MP Carol Hughes for having Transport Canada staff contact us to request information related to our ACR Passenger Service Transitional funding proposal. It is my understanding that the information requested by your officials has been received, and deemed complete.
Our preparation of this information revealed some additional information that we as a Working Group had not fully appreciated. Based on 2014 passenger data recently received from CN, we discovered that over 80% of the ACR passenger trips originate from or are destined for an ACR station or flag stop that is not accessible by a public thoroughfare.

We also discovered that the employment and economic benefits that may result from the third-party operator’s proposed business plan are more significant than expected. The return on investment by the Government of Canada supporting the Working Group’s transitional funding proposal not only includes the retention of current economic benefits and employment by continuing the passenger service, it also creates the potential to substantially increase regional economic and employment growth as evidenced by BDO communications, which were based upon Railmark’s financial projections.

In summary, according to recent BDO estimates, the continued operation of the ACR passenger service during the five year transition funding period will support the total generation of $142,620,000 in economic impacts in the low scenario and as much as $268,680,000 in the high scenario. The average scenario was estimated to be $252,900,000 over this period. This includes annual tax revenue estimates which would accrue to all levels of Government (estimated at between $8.78M and $12.83M). In terms of employment and based on BDO’s current (Original Impact Analysis) and future (per Railmark’s Projections), the total estimated impact would be 375 to 640 jobs/year. This represents 30-40 direct jobs, 55-170 indirect jobs and 290 to 430 ―induced‖ jobs.

Minister, the Working Group respectfully requests that you and your Department immediately address the remaining two action items noted in our January 19, 2015 letter and previously referenced in our December 19, 2014 letter to you. Now is the time to immediately meet to confirm the federal government’s continued commitment to this railway service by supporting the stakeholder Working Group’s five year, $7 million transition plan.
There are only two weeks remaining before the ACR passenger service shuts down. Your officials have had an opportunity to review the information the Working Group provided and have likely forwarded recommendations to you. The third party operator has been identified and has signed the necessary agreements to undertake the provision of the ACR passenger service. The operator is preparing to take over the rail service – contingent on federal funding. And, effective April 1, 2015, CN will have terminated the employees who historically undertook to provide this service. We as affected stakeholders need to move forward with you and implement this transition plan now.