Wednesday, July 22, 2009

 

BCRail lines are as much a lifeline as the highway system for Fort St. John, Dawson Creek, Fort St. James, Quesnel, Lillooet

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The other B.C. Rail issue

Times Colonist - July 22, 2009
Editorial

While the legal battles in the B.C. Rail corruption trial have rightly grabbed headlines, the New Democrats have raised another legitimate issue in asking for full disclosure of the contract governing the sale of B.C. Rail to CN Rail five years ago.

The party's stated concern is that CN is now in a legal position to abandon rail service through many B.C. communities. It deserves a response from the government.

Breaking a key election promise, the government announced in November 2003 that it would sell the B.C. Rail freight division for $1 billion to CN Rail. The deal, finalized July 14, 2004, stated CN could not abandon sections of the rail line for five years -- a period that ended this month.

The agreement affects thousands of kilometres of track from North Vancouver to Fort Nelson. Unfortunately, much of the contract remains mired in secrecy.

The government has said it has released all that it can under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

{Snip} ...

For many smaller B.C. communities, rail lines are as much a lifeline as the highway system. Fort St. John, Dawson Creek, Fort St. James, Quesnel, Lillooet -- these resource-dependent cities and towns rely on their rail service to move exports to markets.

The possibility of losing service -- or even of that service changing hands -- is a key concern in these communities. The government should be up front with them about their future.

There is also the larger concern of open public disclosure.

It's been five years since a key public asset was sold to private enterprise and we have still not seen the complete wording of the contract.

For a government that likes to describe itself as open and transparent, this is anything but.

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Comments:
consider the tourism hit those little towns took when BC Rail cancelled its passenger service/ then leased the track to the Rocky Mountaineer for blue-plate tours that went through those towns but did not, other than Prince George, actually let all those platinum cards and designer shopping bags off the train.....

And now, with CN in the position to do some mega-real estate development by cancelling rail services altogether, turning around and being the largest landowner in many of those same towns.....
 
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