According to a socio-economic impact assessment from BDO Canada – now in its final draft stage – the transportation service generates between $38 and $48 million in annual economic activity, which supports up to 220 jobs and helps deliver more than $5 million in tax revenue to government coffers every year.
“Our position has always been that the ACR passenger service provides a substantial economic benefit for Northern Ontario and the country as a whole, and now that we have this report from BDO, one of Canada’s leading accounting and advisory firms, our position has been confirmed,” said Joe Fratesi, Chair of the ACR Passenger Service Working Group and CAO of the City of Sault Ste. Marie.
“According to the preliminary report, the rail line also supports more than $60 million in property value and provides untold social benefits, making the continued operation of the service of the upmost importance.”
BDO’s impact assessment was created using ridership numbers and industry standards, along with a stakeholder survey prepared by the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation, which garnered nearly 500 responses.
The final draft of the report, which uses conservative estimates, is now being shared with Transport Canada, CN Rail and stakeholders who use the rail service.
The document is available online at www.algomapassengerrail.com under the “Reports/Info” section. Stakeholders are invited to send comments and feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline to respond is April 30.
In early-2014, the Federal Government indicated that it was cutting its annual investment into the Sault-to-Hearst rail service. Without the funding, CN Rail, the owner and operator of the line, announced that it was ending the run.
The ACR Passenger Service Working Group, which represents a broad range of concerned stakeholders, has been striving to find solutions to keep the link operating in the short term so that longer-term solutions could be explored.
Earlier this week, the Honourable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Transport, announced that her government was restoring its investment into the ACR passenger line until March 31, 2015.
“Now that the rail service received the one-year extension in funding from Transport Canada, we have an opportunity to further engage stakeholders and all levels of government to come up with sustainable solutions,” said Tom Dodds, CEO of the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation and a member of the ACR Passenger Service Working Group.
“We thank all the stakeholders for their efforts so far, and we will continue to work with them on this key transportation initiative in the months to come.”