Manitoba

Trudeau government still mulling Port of Churchill options

The Trudeau government is still mulling potential options for the Port of Churchill as northern Manitoba leaders continue to press for a solution to the closure of the Hudson Bay facility.

Manitoba MP Jim Carr declines to speculate on solution following 'emotional' meeting with northern leaders

Winnipeg South Centre MP Jim Carr says he had an emotional meeting with northern Manitoba leaders about the future of the Port of Churchill. (CBC)

The Trudeau government is still mulling potential options for the Port of Churchill as northern Manitoba leaders continue to press for a solution to the closure of the Hudson Bay facility.

Churchill Mayor Mike Spence has called on the federal government to reclaim ownership of the port and conduct upgrades. Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister has rejected the notion of short-term subsidies for OmniTrax, the Denver-based company that owns the port as well as the Hudson Bay Railway.

Trade experts, meanwhile, have questioned the viability of Churchill as a grain-shipping port.

Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr, the Winnipeg South Centre MP who is working on the Churchill file, has declined to say what course of action he personally would prefer to pursue.

A number of possibilities will eventually come before Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains, Carr said on Thursday. 

"I'm sure that Minister Bains will have an array of options to consider and as a colleague of his and as a minister from Manitoba, I will be having conversations with him and other colleagues to determine what we think is the best way forward," Carr told reporters at The Forks.

Kim Kushniryk has worked at the port for OmniTrax for nine years. As a closure of the Arctic seaport looms, she worries her livelihood is now in jeopardy. (Lyzaville Sale/CBC)
Carr said he met on Wednesday with Spence and other northern Manitoba leaders about the closure​ of the port.
"It was a very emotional meeting in many ways as we exchanged ideas about consequence and pointing ways in which we can have a bright future for Manitoba," Carr said.

Spence described the meeting as positive. He said he pressed for a short-term plan to save the 2016 grain-shipping season and a long-term re-nationalization plan, which would place the port back in government hands.

OmniTrax laid off workers at the Port of Churchill on July 25 and then cut Hudson Bay Railway freight-train service down to once per week.

Earlier this week, Carr said those actions suggest OmniTrax is no longer interested in those operations.

Carr spoke Thursday at a ceremony to mark the start of a 150-day countdown to 2017, Canada's 150th anniversary.

With a file from Camille Gris Roy

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