The Ontario NDP is reaffirming its $4 million dollar per year commitment to keep the Huron Central Railway operational should the party form government next month.
The operators of the railway, Genesee & Wyoming Canada Inc. issued a press release today stating that it will discontinue its service by the end of the year due to a "lack of necessary provincial funding."
Sault Ste. Marie NDP candidate Michele McCleave-Kennedy was joined by incumbent Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Michael Mantha in downtown Sault Ste. Marie Tuesday morning to promise funding for the railway if elected.
“This is the connecting link that we have between all our communities in order to get our goods to market,” Mantha told SooToday. “If we are not investing in our short rails, that means we’re going to have 30,000 more heavy equipment transports that are going to be traveling on our roads, which is going to cause more greenhouse gas emission, which is going to cause more accidents, more congestion on our roads and huge investment that we’re going to have to put into our road maintenance.”
The Huron Central Railway is a 278 kilometre stretch of rail that links Sault Ste. Marie to Sudbury, and is used by Algoma Steel, Domtar and EACOM to ship its goods across northeastern Ontario.
McCleave-Kennedy says the $4 million per year investment would enable Huron Central Railway to fix its infrastructure.
“There’s a lot of trouble with the rail and the safety, so some new precautions have been put in place, and Huron Central needs to work on getting their rail fixed so that things can move quicker down to southern Ontario,” McCleave-Kennedy said. “It’s 7,000 spinoff jobs for Sault Ste. Marie, that’s a big thing for here.”
The party originally made the same pledge to provide Huron Central Railway with funding back in May 2017.
The Ontario NDP is also pledging to invest $25 million over the course of a four-year term in order to develop a passenger rail strategy for northeastern Ontario.
Mantha told SooToday that his party would bring Ontario Northland, Algoma Central Railway and the Coalition for Algoma Passenger Trains to the table in order to carry out its strategy.
“We are subsidizing rail in southern Ontario, and we are only asking for the same service and consideration in northern Ontario so that we move on our tourism, move on our economies and be part of the greater good of this province.”