“We’ve already created three or four new jobs with this venture. That’s why the federal government saw it as a real fit for them.”
– KEVIN FRIESEN
The Boundary Trails Railway Company (BTRC) received $1 million from the federal government June 8 through its recession-fighting Community Adjustment fund.
“We’ve already created three or four new jobs with this venture,” BTRC president and Manitou-area farmer Kevin Friesen said in an interview. “That’s why the federal government saw it as a real fit for them.”
The money will go towards purchasing 23 miles of track from the Canadian Pacific Railway Company (CPR) between Morden and Binney Corner, three miles west of Manitou for an undisclosed price.
Earlier this year the Manitoba government contributed $615,000 in the form of a forgivable loan.
The federal money is similar and has strings attached preventing the 80 shareholders – most of them farmers – from abusing taxpayer funds, Friesen said.
If all the paperwork and inspections are in order, producer cars could be rolling on the line this week, said Travis Long, BTRC’s new general manager. The CPR spotted 10 cars at Morden recently, ready for the BTRC to pick up.
BTRC has contracted car hauling and line maintenance to Central Canadian Railway. That allowed BTRC to cut its capital costs and helped close the sale on time, Long said.
“It allows us to predict what our costs will be and it will eliminate some overhead we’d be incurring whether we were moving traffic or not,” he added.
Farmers who load “producer cars” can save around $1,000 a car by avoiding country elevator fees, Friesen said.
One of BTRC’s shareholders, Mission Terminal, which receives producer cars at its terminal at Thunder Bay, will provide blending options for farmers shipping cars on the short line, Friesen said. That should make the option as competitive or better than delivering to an elevator, even when shipping lower-grade grain, he said.
Friesen said he hopes local farmers will support the new railway venture. If they don’t, they’ll lose another marketing and transportation option.
“I just want to remind all the producers out there this isn’t just for the 80 shareholders who bought this line, it’s for everybody who wants to ship on this line,” he said. “We’re open for business.” [email protected]