The Mask-wa Transportation Association Inc. and the Missanabie Cree First Nation are conducting a survey to determine the need to restart the passenger train between Sault Ste. Marie and Hearst.
SAULT STE MARIE, ONTARIO – Mask-wa Oo-ta-ban, the “Bear Train,” (previously the Algoma Central Passenger Train) is an initiative of the Missanabie Cree First Nation and Mask-wa Transportation Association Inc., communities, and socio-economic stakeholders along the Algoma passenger train rail corridor to resume this essential service.
The MTA Inc. Board is conducting a public survey in order to develop a marketing plan and strategy. Board director, Dorothy Macnaughton, has commented on the purpose of the survey.
“The reason we went for a market survey and plan is that the current Bear Train business plan doesn’t have a lot of specifics about marketing, and in order to go to funders to help get the train operating, you really need a definitive sense of what your marketing is – who is going to be traveling on the train, both local people and tourists.”
Information gathered from the survey will help determine user group needs, potential ticket fees, and overall public support. The survey and a marketing plan are being developed in partnership with local digital marketing firm, Jeronamo Digital Solutions.
Monique Morrison, owner and CEO of Jeronamo, is honoured to have been selected to assist with this project. “We are all about supporting local businesses, so being part of this initiative is incredibly humbling. Our team is fully committed to helping the MTA Inc. team and the Missanabie Cree First Nation gather the data needed to put together a clear and effective marketing plan.”
The Mask-wa Oo-ta-ban “Bear Train” is an essential service for communities and businesses along the train corridor between Sault Ste. Marie and Hearst. A common concern brought forward by stakeholders is the isolation of many communities and businesses along the rail line.
In fact, 400km of the 470km Algoma rail line is not accessible by public road. As a result, a number of businesses, communities, and residents have been unable to access their residences, lodges, or business properties via safe, reliable public infrastructure and services.
As a result, Indigenous people, workers, tourists, property owners and community members have been denied access to essential services, health care, businesses, lodges and their camps. Based on a Stakeholder Survey by BDO, it was determined that approximately 75% of properties of private residents would be deemed “inaccessible” without passenger train service.
A passenger train service on this line operated by a First Nations organization will not only have cultural significance for the Missanabie Cree, but also provide a unique tourism experience.
The vision of MTA Inc. is to initiate a multi-modal transportation strategy for Algoma with connections to the rest of Ontario for both freight and people that will provide effective, efficient year-round transportation, sustain and support the broadest social and economic needs, while enhancing public safety and addressing long-term environmental responsibilities.
For more information about our mission and cause, or to complete the online survey, visit the Bear Train website at www.beartrain.ca. For those who are unable to complete the online survey, call 1-833-705-6447 Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
The survey close date is Sunday, May 9th, 2021.