The Coalition for Algoma Passenger Trains, otherwise known as CAPT, is slated to present an update on the Bear (Passenger) Train during Monday evening’s council meeting.
Board member Dean Anderson will go before council with a concept idea that he came up with to improve economic development and give life back to passenger rail between the Sault and Hearst, which has been absent for the past three years.
Anderson, who owns Catalina Motel here in the Sault, noticed he’s lost a lot of business since the Bear train from the Sault to Hearst has been shut down. Catalina Motel used to see a lot of snowmobilers who would take the train to Hearst and ride back into the Sault, but people can no longer do so due to the lack of passenger rail.
Because of this, Anderson came up with an idea to take to council: asking the City if they could could take either some or a significant portion of the accommodation tax – which they receive from hotels here in the Sault – and put it towards the Bear train, which would go from the Sault to Hearst, so that the Missanabie Cree First Nation, who are hoping to take over the rail line, can get it back up and running.
“They have their rail operating license,” CAPT Board Chair Dorothy Macnaughton told SaultOnline. “They’ve been in talks with CN, they’re ready to get things moving – all they need is startup funding.
“So his concept is sort of multifaceted – it’s that the city would help fund to get that train up and running, get it running successfully, and then the Missanabie Cree First Nation could also run the tour train if CN decides they want to get out of it.”
Macnaughton said she thinks this would help the city since “there would already be an operator of one train service.”
“Why not have the same operator run the tour train too on the same tracks?” she asked.
Doing so could allow more opportunity for economic development, Macnaughton said, by allowing people to spend more time (and potentially money) at the Agawa Canyon by taking the tour train up and the BEAR passenger train back.
Since the inception of this concept, CAPT has spoken with the mayor as well as Dan Hollingsworth from the Economic Development Council, and Tom Vairs from Future SSM, and are also in the process of writing letters to the Federal Government for funding.
“That’s an on-going project, because they (the Feds) have made a commitment towards economic development and reconciliation with first nations communities, so wouldn’t it make sense to help Missanabie Cree accomplish that because they’re ready.”
For more information on CAPT, visit their website here.