Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut September 05, 2018 - 2:29 pm

Private-public partnership seals takeover of Churchill’s port, railway

Canada's only deep-water Arctic port expected to re-open by 2019

SARAH ROGERS
Churchill is currently Canada’s only deep-water Arctic port, though it’s been without a connection to the south since the railway flooded last year. A new private-public partnership has reached a deal to take over the port and railway, with support from the federal government. (FILE PHOTO)
Churchill is currently Canada’s only deep-water Arctic port, though it’s been without a connection to the south since the railway flooded last year. A new private-public partnership has reached a deal to take over the port and railway, with support from the federal government. (FILE PHOTO)

Churchill’s port and railway at may be back in service before the end of the year, following the purchase of this infrastructure by a consortium of private companies and First Nations communities.

The Manitoba town is home to one of Canada’s only deep-water Arctic ports, though it’s been without a connection to the south since the railway flooded last year.

Its former owners, U.S.-based owner Omnitrax, refused to fix the line, which the company claimed would cost tens of millions of dollars to repair.

After months of negotiations, the federal government announced a new deal had been reached Aug. 31 to take over the railway, the port and Churchill’s marine tank farm.

Arctic Gateway Group is a private-public partnership made up of Fairfax Financial Holdings, AGT Limited Partnership and Missinippi Rail Limited Partnership, which is made up of six Manitoba First Nations.

“Over the last eight months we have been working diligently with our many partners to come together, develop a business plan and satisfy the principles for successful new ownership of the Hudson Bay Railway and Port of Churchill facilities,” said Paul Rivett of Fairfax Holdings, in a news release on Tuesday, Sept. 4.

“The Government of Canada acknowledges the value and importance of our inclusive group and is supportive of our efforts providing a long-term support package through Western Diversification and Export Development Canada to acquire the assets and implement phase one of the project.”

Phase one includes repairs to the rail line and safety upgrades to the port, though the office of the federal minister of international trade has yet to say how much funding it intends to provide for the project.

The work is expected to begin later this week, with the goal of restoring rail service before the winter.

While the news in welcome across the North, Nunavut leaders have said that restoring the rail and port may not produce any benefits for the territory, where most resupply vessels now originate in Montreal-area ports.

The Kivalliq Inuit Association is still in discussion with the buying group about coming on as a partner to the project, which could open the doors to the revival of a marine transportation link between Churchill and the Kivalliq region.

A representative of Arctic Gateway Group is set to attend KIA’s upcoming annual general meeting in October to brief its board of directors on the group’s plans, the KIA said.

Missinippi Rail currently holds 50 per cent ownership of the Churchill rail and port.

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(5) Comments:

#1. Posted by Arviatmiutaq on September 05, 2018

With 2 mines in the Kivalliq, its a given that the benefits will be reaped.  Lots of vehicles, atvs and snowmobile, boats used to be brought up through Churchill to the Kivalliq.

#2. Posted by Optimist on September 05, 2018

Super important!

#3. Posted by Mariner on September 06, 2018

Very good to see. We took the train from Thompson to Churchill and it was great. Numbers 1 & 2 are bang on.

#4. Posted by Waguih Rayes on September 06, 2018

Just for the records and contrary to certain insinuations under this article, the marine transportation link from Churchill to the Kivalliq communities was never interrupted until the railroad got damaged by the flood.  As a matter of fact, Nunavut Sealink and Supply Inc. (NSSI) has regularly planned, scheduled and made three stopovers in Churchill every season, in order to pick up cargoes that were delivered to that Port, before proceeding to the Kivalliq communities. These stopovers started as NSSI’s commitment to the Kivalliq Region when NTCL stopped its own carriage services. They were maintained under private contracts between 2003 and 2011; and thenafter, NSSI provides the service under the NSSI-GN Contract from 2012 until the railroad was damaged and cargo couldn’t reach Churchill anymore.

#5. Posted by Kuujjuaq on September 07, 2018

Good news, glad it will be up and running.

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