The letter below, penned by Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce President Mark Barsanti, was addressed to Mayor Debbie Amaroso and copied to a number of area officials, including MP Bryan Hayes, MPP David Orazietti, and Minister of Transport Lisa Raitt.
City Council is expected to pass a resolution Monday evening that would urge Transport Canada to continue funding CN passenger rail service between Sault Ste. Marie and Hearst for one year in order to give stakeholders the opportunity to find a permanent solution.
January 30, 2014
Mayor Debbie Amaroso
City Of Sault Ste. Marie
99 Foster Drive
Sault Ste. Marie, ON P6A 5X6
Re: Federal Rail Subsidy Termination and Cancellation of Northern Rail Service
Dear Mayor Amaroso:
The Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce is gravely concerned about the impending termination of rail service along the ACR line from Sault Ste. Marie to Hearst, Ontario.
We appreciate that businesses must be free to manage their affairs in a manner that generates, and in fact, maximizes profit.
Similarly, the Chamber acknowledges that government must ensure the responsible and measured use of tax dollars.
This is especially true whenever tax dollars are being used to support private business.
The Chamber also believes that business and government have a duty to ensure that the decision making process in relation to issues with multiple stakeholders, must be conducted in a socially responsible manner.
In the case of the provision and subsidization of rail service, supporting remote populations, part of that duty includes the duty to engage in full and open dialogue with stakeholders prior to reaching a conclusion.
This is particularly true where, as in this case, the decision would, in effect strand hundreds, if not thousands, of people from effectively accessing their property and in some cases their source of livelihood in a meaningful manner.
The gravity of that duty is even more pronounced when one considers the adverse economic impact that could be brought to bear upon an entire region.
When confronted with crises and the need to change, people and business are resilient and can most often adapt to new environmental realities.
However, they need to be given an opportunity to consider their options and engage with each other with a view to bringing matters such as this to a positive conclusion.
While it is regrettable that the termination of the northern rail service was announced without prior consultation, the Chamber believes that solutions can be found.
We support the City of Sault Ste. Marie, the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation and all of the other stakeholders in their request to the Government of Canada and to CN Rail for a one year extension of the subsidy and operation of this vital rail link so that all parties can work collaboratively toward a positive conclusion.
We welcome the opportunity to serve in a manner that will affect a positive outcome.
Mark S. Barsanti
President, Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce
Cc: Joseph M. Fratesi, Chief Administrative Officer, City of Sault Ste. Marie
Bryan Hayes, Member of Parliament – Sault Ste. Marie
Hon. David Orazietti, Minister of Natural Resources, Member of Provincial Parliament – Sault Ste. Marie
Hon. Lisa Raitt, Minister, Transport Canada
Mayor Roger Sigouin, Hearst, Ontario
Mayor Linda Nowicki, Wawa, Ontario
Claude Mongeau, President and Chief Executive Officer, CN
Sault Ste. Marie Local Media