$60 million in taxpayer funding announced for Churchill port and rail line upgrades

(file photo)

The federal and Manitoba governments are committing up to $60 million to complete upgrades to the Hudson Bay Railway and to begin redevelopment of the Port of Churchill.

The funding, which will go to the Arctic Gateway Group, was announced by Premier Wab Kinew and federal minister Dan Vandal in Churchill on Friday.

“The Port of Churchill makes Manitoba a maritime province, and both the port and the rail line offer so much potential when it comes to international trade, energy exports, and building out the supply chains that create good jobs in Northern Manitoba,” noted Kinew. “Our team fought to repair the rail line because we understand it is the backbone of the northern economy and a vital connection to food and fuel for the families that live there.”

The Arctic Gateway Group is a partnership of 41 First Nation and Hudson Bay communities that acquired the railway to Churchill and the port in 2018, with $117 million in support from the federal government.

In 2022, the provincial and federal governments announced another $148 million to support upgrades to the rail line.

According to the province, crews replaced over 8.9 per cent (166,000) of rail ties, resurfaced two million feet (610 kilometres) of track, upgraded more than 10 bridges and placed fresh ballast rock on 23 per cent of the track between The Pas and Churchill over the last two construction seasons.

While the the port has historically been used for grain exports, especially by the former Canadian Wheat Board, the news release from the federal and provincial governments on Friday does not mention agricultural shipments, but highlights opportunities to use the infrastructure to support the mining of critical minerals.

“This means jobs will be created, mining and forestry opportunities will open, and Bayline communities will have the opportunity to position themselves as a true gateway to the Arctic and the world,” said Vandal, minister for PrairiesCan.

Kinew also mentioned the potential for energy exports via the port — an idea that past-premier Heather Stefanson and other Prairie premiers, including Alberta’s Danielle Smith, have voiced support for.

The Arctic Gateway Group has signed an agreement with Hudbay Minerals Inc. that will see zinc concentrate shipped out of the port this year. The port also saw its first cruise ship in decades last year.


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Categories: Logistics / News / Western Canada