WHEREAS CN and CP Rail originally constructed and operated rail main lines and branch lines to connect and service communities within Canada; and
WHEREAS CN and CP Rail are continually discontinuing branch lines and some main line services throughout rural Alberta and Canada; and
WHEREAS the Canada Transportation Act sets out a process to transfer or discontinue a rail line; and
WHEREAS the provincial government‘s current policies and procedures regarding rail line discontinuance are limiting and do not include consultation with the affected local municipalities; and
WHEREAS there is great merit in acquiring these discontinued rail lines for the purpose of utilization as future regional transportation and utility corridors;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties urge the provincial and federal governments to re-assess its policies and procedures regarding discontinued rail lines and, upon notification of a rail line discontinuance, enter into discussions with the involved local municipalities for the purpose of exploring and pursuing partnership opportunities to acquire these rail lines for the purpose of utilization as future regional transportation and utility corridors;
FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties forward this Resolution to the Rural Forum of the FCM for their consideration;
FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that the provincial and federal governments accept this Resolution as an urgent policy request.
The Canada Transportation Act (CTA) sets out the process that a rail company must follow to formally transfer or discontinue a rail line. This process includes: a three year plan; advertisement; expression of interest and negotiation; offer to governments and; notice of discontinuance and compensation. Another operating interest may acquire the line for rail service or the line can be offered for sale to any interested party. The railway company must offer to transfer its interests in a scheduled discontinued rail line simultaneously to the federal, provincial or municipal governments through whose territory the rail line passes for no more than net salvage value of the line.
Most of the rail lines were constructed in the early years to reach communities scattered across the nation and, given the lack of settlement, the lines were usually the shortest distance between two locations. Given the population and settlement growth to-day, it would be impossible to re-construct such a continuous corridor. To lose these rail corridors would be detrimental; to have the vision to utilize them for future servicing would be beneficial for future generations.
The merits of retaining a discontinued line as a continuous corridor are numerous; the corridor can be used for conveying regional services such as water lines and utility services or, the corridor could be utilized as a transportation corridor.
Since a discontinued rail line usually crosses more than one municipality it is crucial that all involved municipalities along with the provincial government work together, through consultation and partnership, to explore options to retain the discontinued rail line as a continuous corridor for future regional uses.
“Resolution 6-07S: THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal District and Counties request that Alberta Infrastructure and Transportation work with the rail industry to respond in a timely, efficient and cost effective manner in the delivery of goods in and out of Alberta; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Federal and Alberta Governments work to ensure that the rail companies have to provide timely, efficient and cost effective service to the citizens of Canada and the provinces; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Alberta and Federal Governments ensure allocation of cars for the movement of agricultural products with no economic hardship to producers and processors; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Alberta and Federal Governments conduct a review of CN operations with a view to providing more timely, efficient, and cost effective service to their customers as well as a review of their operations related to safety. “
Alberta Transportation reviews rail lines that are abandoned on a case-by-case basis. Some rail lines that are considered to be of significant importance from a transportation perspective have been purchased in the past.
The department will continue to monitor the abandonment of rail lines from the perspective of the provincial transportation network.
After analysis, it is clear that this issue lies with the Province. If the Government of Alberta enabled a coordinated response, this would fulfill the intent of the resolution that these corridors should be preserved for future use, whether it be for rail or other utilities. The AAMDC will continue to bring forward this issue to the Minister of Transportation through regular meetings.