Doug Millroy: Saving Railway Equals Votes In Northern Ontario

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Reading Elaine Della-Mattia’s story in The Sault Star that Huron Central Railway will cease operations between Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury in 2018 if it does not receive a funding commitment from the province’s Liberal government for required infrastructure improvements, one thought came quickly to mind.

If the funding does not come through, there should be no votes in the Sault or Algoma-Manitoulin for the Liberal candidates in the provincial election next year.

And the same should hold true for federal Liberal candidates if that government does not come through with its share of the required funding.

Former Conservative MP Bryan Hayes is a case in point in how that works.

The federal government at one time provided a subsidy of about $2M a year to CN to maintain passenger service on the rail line between the Sault and Hearst.

But the Conservative government of Stephen Harper pulled it.

Passenger service went bye bye and in the next election so did Hayes.

I can’t help but believe the bad publicity Hayes got by not being able to bring back the funding worked against him in the election.

Huron Central has said it needs about $3.7 million per year from the provincial government to make the infrastructure improvements and had set a deadline of Monday to allow it time to apply for the federal portion of the funding.

The provincial government was silent as the deadline passed, leading to Huron Central’s comment that it will shut the line down if the province doesn’t come through.

In this one, the Conservatives will be the ones fighting to keep the line alive.

Sault MPP Ross Romano told Della-Mattia that “Northern Ontario’s economy depends on this train and our workers depend on these jobs. Yet in a time of great need, the premier turned her back on us.”

Algoma, Eacom and Domtar make up about 90 percent of Huron Central’s freight operation, but Romano says closure of the line would have economic consequences for all of Northern Ontario.

And we have enough transports on our two-lane northern highways now; we don’t need the estimated 30,000 more that would result from the closing of the rail line.

Both Liberal governments should come through with their share of the required funding.

OUR TRAFFIC PEOPLE have done a good job over the past couple of years in recommending the taking out of traffic lights at many intersections to allow for a freer flow of traffic.

Therefore I could understand staff recommending and council accepting, over the objection of Ward 5 Councillors Marchy Bruni and Frank Fata, that no changes be made to the intersection at Third Line and People’s Road.

Bruni wanted better traffic controls, lights or an all-way stop, because he saw the present situation as hazardous, with an increase in general traffic as well as transports.

The intersection has seen six collisions over the past three years.

Apparently the traffic flow at present does not warrant any change and from the times that I have travelled the area, I would have to agree with that.

As at any intersection, it is up to the motorist to proceed in safety.

Traffic flow has been improved immensely in the city and I would not like to see that changed.

I thought council made a mistake when it did not go along with staff’s proposal that the lights be taken out at Wallace Terrace and Goulais Avenue.

I have been through that intersection countless times and have yet to encounter more than three vehicles waiting for the light to turn.

Even if there were more, if a four-way stop is OK at Pine Street and MacDonald Avenue, surely it would do the job at Wallace Terrace and Goulais Avenue.

The complaint by the ward councillors that lights were needed to protect children going to school was specious at best

However, I will take this opportunity to address a festering sore point with me, the intersection of Albert and East Streets.

As you probably will recall, two lanes of traffic off Albert used to travel freely up East Street to join with Wellington East.

Two lanes of traffic still go east on Albert Street but they split at east street, only one carrying on to Wellington, the other having been turned into a U turn for the minimal traffic going west.

After Soo Greyhound games, traffic can be backed up almost to Bruce Street as motorists have become accustomed to using only one lane to go east.

Some, however, will speed along the almost empty north lane, hoping to find a spot to merge before coming to East Street.

Of all the good the traffic people have done, they certainly didn’t cover themselves with glory with this one.

Actually, they didn’t come up with it. The old system had been there for 50 years. The change was made by a line-painting crew from Guelph. Our traffic people simply compounded the mistake.

4 COMMENTS

  1. “If the funding does not come through, there should be no votes in the Sault or Algoma-Manitoulin for the Liberal candidates in the provincial election next year.”
    Funding or not no votes for the fiberals.
    The operators are a wealthy US company that own or lease 121 railroads and can easily afford to maintain their own tracks, but why would they if they can get someone else to foot the bill?
    This is utter nonsense.

  2. I totally agree with the comments re Albert St and East St. It makes no sense that a one way, eastbound street needs a dedicated west bound lane for a minimal number of cars that might need to circle back and go west. I am nervous every time I use the proper lane that someone in the other lane will cut over to my lane. I fail to see the reasoning for the current setup. Hopefully the Traffic department will change back to the original configuration.

  3. For the record, the subsidy was removed by the conservatives in 2014 and CN ceased the rail passenger service. After much public outcry and petitions from the likes of the Coalition for Algoma Passenger Trains, Minister of Transport, Lisa Raitt, P.C.,M.P. announced funding of $5.3 million over 3 years to restart the service, all thanks to Bryan Hayes. Railmark, CN’s choice to operate the passenger service attempted but failed shortly due to inadequate financing and lack of expertise. Missanabie Cree are in the process of re-establishing service but have been told repeatedly by the Liberal Gov’t that the ACR route does not fit the criteria for “Remote Services’ as all points can be accessed by road to the provincial highway network which is a fallacy. Should you want proof, I have a letter from both the conservatives and Liberals. Next time you want to write about these issues you may want to do a little research before you put pen to paper.

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