Cando awarded contract to repair Churchill rail line

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Brandon-based Cando Rail Services is one of two companies tasked with repairing the Churchill rail line after several businesses and First Nations groups banded together to officially buy the damaged railway last week.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 05/09/2018 (1551 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Brandon-based Cando Rail Services is one of two companies tasked with repairing the Churchill rail line after several businesses and First Nations groups banded together to officially buy the damaged railway last week.

The contract, awarded to Cando Rail and Alberta-based Paradox Access Solutions, was announced in a news release on Tuesday.

A Cando Rail spokesperson said the company could not comment on the deal due to the terms of the contract.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods The closed rail line and Port of Churchill is seen on July 3, 2018.

But the news was welcomed by Brandon West Progressive Conservative MLA Reg Helwer, who described Cando Rail as a great community player throughout the country and said he suspects that will continue with this new opportunity.

“Cando has been a remarkable success story in Brandon and in Canada,” Helwer said. “They do work all across the country … so (it’s) very good to see that they’ll be using their expertise to make this a reality.”

Last Friday, Arctic Gateway Group LP, whose members include Missinippi Rail Limited Partnership — a consortium of First Nations and other communities — along with Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited and AGT Food and Ingredients Inc., announced that it had closed a deal with Omnitrax Inc. to acquire the Hudson Bay Railway and Port of Churchill facilities.

The agreement also involves OneNorth, a group co-chaired by Churchill Mayor Mike Spence, and support from Ottawa, the Winnipeg Free Press reported.

In a statement made on behalf of the partners, Fairfax president Paul Rivett said the group has been working diligently over the last eight months and he thanked the federal government and leadership from Omnitrax, Churchill and other First Nations for making the project a reality.

Rivett said repairs have commenced with the awarding of a contract to Cando Rail and Paradox.

“We are racing against time to attempt to restore services prior to the winter season,” he said. “The time has come for us to work together with our consortium of First Nations and communities, the Government of Canada, the provinces and the private sector to build an Arctic gateway for Canada to the world.”

Grand Chief Arlen Dumas of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs described the deal as historic and thanked Omnitrax head Pat Broe for negotiating in good faith.

Prior to becoming grand chief, Dumas served as chief of Mathias Colomb Cree Nation, one of the signatories to Missinippi Rail. The consortium also includes Fox Lake Cree Nation, Opaskwayak Cree Nation, Tataskweyak Cree Nation, War Lake First Nation, York Factory First Nation and municipalities located along the rail line.

The group now owns a 50 per cent stake in the Churchill project.

“Participating communities will enjoy preferential employment and contracting opportunities consistent with modern agreements concerning business in our territories,” Dumas said.

“This is a strong deal for our northern First Nation communities and a strong departure from the status quo of uncertainty over the future operation of these critical pieces of infrastructure. I am proud of our people and look forward to the successes that this project will enable.”

“We’ll have control in the future, and we’ll work toward prosperity,” Spence said. “This is historic. I don’t think there’s another model out there in Canada that would fit into this equation. First Nations, communities and municipalities and the private sector hand-in-hand with the Government of Canada. This will work. We are excited for the future.”

Numerous sections of the Hudson Bay Railway were damaged following heavy flooding in the spring of 2017.

Ottawa eventually intervened after Omnitrax refused to pay an estimated $43.5 million to repair the railway.

The Manitoba government last year spent $6 million to ship a winter’s supply of propane to Churchill.

» mlee@brandonsun.com

» Twitter: @mtaylorlee

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