Nova Scotia

Cape Breton rail lands ownership up in the air

Ownership of the land along the railroad in Cape Breton is in question.

Cape Breton rail line to likely shut down in fall

Barbusci says the first phase of development would include at least $100 million to restore the rail line across Cape Breton, which is unused and in a state of disrepair. (Yvonne Leblanc-Smith/CBC)

Ownership of the land along the railroad in Cape Breton is in question.

The Cape Breton Central Nova Scotia Railway is abandoning the line this fall.

It's not clear who will own the land, once that happens.

Most of the land on which the railway winds through Cape Breton was once privately owned.

Expropriated a century ago, the land was eventually taken over by the Cape Breton and Central Nova Scotia Railway.

CBCNS Railway is an American-owned company that charged adjacent landowners thousands of dollars in access fees.

After seven years, the company is now abandoning the line. Landowners like Ken Jardine are now wondering what will happen to that land.

“This is one of the questions we have. Is our land going to be restored and returned to us?"

Jardine heads a landowners group, that has been fighting the fees and access rights since 2007.

"We just want the same as everyone else has, we want unfettered access, unencumbered access to our property," he said.  

The rail company is applying to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board to abandon the line, which means the decision of what becomes of the land could be decided by the UARB.

Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Minister Geoff MacLellan says he's getting a case together to satisfy everyone involved.

"Really, the next three months for us is determining exactly what will happen with respect to ownership. That's the biggest question that we are trying to solve," he said.

Jardine's group has called a public meeting for July 8 and has invited everyone involved to come air their concerns.