Canada’s Ice Roads Are Melting — And That Is Terrible News for Aboriginal Communities – by Hilary Beaumont (Vice News – January 6, 2016)

https://news.vice.com/

Aboriginal chiefs in Canada are blaming climate change for water and food shortages on their reserves this winter.

Isolated reserves in northern Ontario rely on ice roads to transport supplies in the winter, but warmer weather means those roads haven’t frozen yet, so food and water are in short supply.

“Everything you can imagine,” Rosemary McKay, Chief of Bearskin Lake First Nation, told VICE News. “They’re running out of food and anything they need in their home. Sugar, tea, flour, you name it.”

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Construction on Nunavut mine’s second road to start next month (Nunatsiaq News – January 6, 2016)

http://www.nunatsiaqonline.ca/

Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd. will move ahead with plans to construct a new all-weather road in Nunavut, this time from its Meadowbank Mine site to its nearby Amaruq exploration camp

The new, single-line road will help the mining company beef up exploration at its Amaruq site, which has the potential to extend Meadowbank’s lifespan well past its current end date of 2018.

Construction on the first phase of the new 64-kilometre road is expected to begin in February 2016: a 16.8 kilometre stretch of road that will run from the mine site to its Vault area.

The second phase, a 47.4 kilometre stretch, will be constructed next winter and be completed in early 2017, the company said.

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In Canada’s far north, warm weather threatens vital ice road – by Susan Taylor (Reuters U.S. – December 24, 2015)

http://www.reuters.com/

Each winter, in the far reaches of Canada’s north, a highway of ice built atop frozen lakes and tundra acts as a supply lifeline to remote diamond mines, bustling with traffic for a couple of months before melting away in the spring.

This year, the world’s busiest ice road is running late. Unseasonably warm weather has set back ice formation on the Tibbitt to Contwoyto Winter Road, named after the first and last of hundreds of lakes on the route.

The road is still expected to open on schedule in late January, but if current weather patterns continue that could mean more work for crews trying to build the ice or cut the road’s already short period of operation.

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Climate change affecting vital winter roads for First Nations, leaders say – by Kristy Kirkup (London Free Press – January 3, 2016)

http://www.lfpress.com/

OTTAWA — Wonky weather conditions are prompting aboriginal leaders to raise concerns about the impact of climate change on winter roads, which serve as lifelines for food, fuel and other necessities in several northern communities.

Isadore Day, the Ontario regional chief for the Assembly of First Nations, said the reliability of the northern winter road network is in jeopardy in his province.

“The winter roads have essentially become a way of life for the communities and now they can’t rely on those winter roads,” Day said, noting the network is used to offset the cost to bring essential goods to fly-in reserves by air.

The problem exemplifies why there was outcry from First Nations during the recent COP21 climate change summit in Paris, Day said.

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Ring of Fire junior miner heads to China for infrastructure money – by Ian Ross (Northern Ontario Business – December 31, 2015)

http://www.northernontariobusiness.com/

KWG Resources’ ultimate dream of building a Ring of Fire railroad may have to be realized through a Chinese bank.

A spokesman for the Toronto junior miner is hyping that a “turning point” has been reached that will jumpstart the stalled development process of the untapped mineral belt in Ontario’s Far North.

KWG announced Dec. 29 that a Chinese railroad engineering firm, China Railway First Survey & Design Institute Group, is conducting a feasibility study to determine if it makes economic sense to run rails north to reach the rich chromite and nickel deposits of the James Bay region.

“The odds are extremely high,” said Bruce Hodgman, KWG’s communications director, in categorizing the likelihood of his company securing offshoring financing with a “bankable feasibility study” of KWG’s railroad concept.

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CP’s $28.4-billion bid a ‘substantial’ premium for Norfolk investors: CEO – by Eric Atkins (Globe and Mail – November 18, 2015)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. has released the letter it sent to Norfolk Southern Corp.’s chief executive officer outlining the proposed $28.4-billion (U.S.) takeover of the Virginia-based railroad.

In the letter dated Nov. 9, CP says the cash-and-stock offer of $46.72 a share and 0.348 in stock is a “substantial” premium to form a combined company that will be able to achieve more than $1.8-billion in cost savings “over the next several years.”

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CN pulls the plug on Algoma passenger train – by Ian Ross (Northern Ontario Business – July 10, 2015)

Established in 1980, Northern Ontario Business provides Canadians and international investors with relevant, current and insightful editorial content and business news information about Ontario’s vibrant and resource-rich North. Ian Ross is the editor of Northern Ontario Business ianross@nob.on.ca.

The search is on for a new operator to take over a Sault Ste. Marie-to-Heart passenger train service after Canadian National Railway (CN) announced it will cease operations on July 15.

The repeated inability of Railmark Canada and its president-CEO R. Allen Brown to obtain financing led CN, the track’s owner, to finally terminate the service.

The same issue cropped up in June, forcing CN to step in and take back a popular sister service on the same line, the Agawa Canyon Tour Train excursion, from the hands of Railmark after a satisfactory agreement couldn’t be reached.

For the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation (EDC) and a regional stakeholders group, it’s back to the drawing board with a full-out scramble to find a replacement operator during the height of the summer tourism season.

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VIA proposes replacing Budd Cars – by Jim Moodie (Sudbury Star – June 23, 2015)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

A new plan for the Sudbury-White River VIA train puts the remote rail service in jeopardy, an industry analyst is warning.

Greg Gormick, a policy consultant, says VIA Rail president Yves Desjardins-Siciliano recently told a group of southwestern Ontario mayors that the self-powered Budd Cars that ply the Sudbury-White River line will be repurposed on routes in their area and replaced in the North by a locomotive-hauled passenger coach and freight car.

“I was shocked,” says Gormick, who sat in on the meeting. “I can’t conceive of this, knowing the costs behind it.” He says Desjardins-Siciliano described the plan twice last week, once to a private audience in St. Mary’s and then at a public meeting Sarnia.

“He’s promoting this fantasy shuttle service that would go back and forth between London and Sarnia and London and Windsor, using the Budd Cars,” Gormick says.

VIA rail is an arm’s-length Crown corporation, but Gormick says there is a political angle to the VIA president floating the idea at this time. “We’re talking about someone who works for the Conservatives and he’s out doing some pre-campaigning for them,” said Gormick. “This plan for southwestern Ontario conveniently wouldn’t kick in until after the election.”

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NEWS RELEASE: Official opening of the Port of Saguenay rail link and intermodal rail yard – Vital rail link for the regional mining industry in Quebec

SAGUENAY, QC, May 29, 2015 /CNW Telbec/ – The Honourable Denis Lebel, Minister of Infrastructure, Communities and Intergovernmental Affairs and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, on behalf of the Honourable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Transport, was joined today by Mr. Serge Simard, Parliamentary Assistant to the Premier for the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean region and Member for Dubuc, on behalf of the Honourable Robert Poëti, Quebec Minister of Transport, Mr. Jean Tremblay, Mayor of the City of Saguenay, and Mr. Richard Létourneau, Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Saguenay Port Authority to mark the official opening of the rail link connecting the Grande-Anse terrminal in the Port of Saguenay to the Roberval-Saguenay rail line and of the intermodal rail yard at the Port of Saguenay.

The 12-kilometre rail link and the intermodal rail yard at the Port of Saguenay will facilitate the transfer of goods from the railway network to ships docking at the Grand-Anse marine terminal. Traffic will be bidirectional.The new rail link will provide shippers with additional transportation options, increase the efficiency and capacity of port operations, and facilitate interprovincial and international trade.

The Grande-Anse terminal in the Port of Saguenay benefits from its deep water location, its industrial development potential, and its geographic location near urban services in the heart of a region that has direct access to the regions of Northern Quebec and has a number of heavy industries, particularly in the aluminum manufacturing and forestry sectors.

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Excerpt From Call of the Northland: Riding the Train That Nearly Toppled a Government – by Thomas Blampied

To order a copy of Call of the Northland: Riding the Train That Nearly Toppled a Government, click here: http://www.northland-book.net/buy.html

Historian, author and photographer Thomas Blampied has been interested in railways for as long as he can remember. Growing up east of Toronto, he spent summer evenings sitting trackside with his father watching streamlined VIA trains race past and long freight trains rumble by. From these early railway experiences grew a lifelong passion for railways and rail travel which has manifested itself through model railroading, photography, writing, railway preservation and the academic study of railway history. This is his fourth book about railways in Ontario. He has studied in both Canada and the United Kingdom and currently resides in Southern Ontario.

Chapter 14: Transformation

After a year of no Northlander service, very little else had changed in the divestment saga. While Michael Gravelle was on record as stating that divestment was not the only option, the continued indecision and lack of transparency did not lend credibility to the government’s new position. For his part, Vic Fedeli was especially frustrated that documents related to divestment remained restricted. Meanwhile, the future of the ‘Ring of Fire’ appeared even less rosy.

Having failed in its request for an easement, Cliffs Natural Resources decided to appeal the decision, a move which would mean years of court proceedings. As Cliffs prepared for the long-haul, passengers on the ONTC’s buses gave up travelling at Thanksgiving as it was standing room only for a second year running, with even the most determined passengers opting to try to travel another day in the hopes of getting a seat.

The divestment was only one of many concerns in the north. To local leaders, the plight of the ONTC was symptomatic of wider problems in the region. While resource extraction continued across the north, raw material was increasingly being moved out of the province to be processed in other jurisdictions with cheaper energy costs.

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Northeastern Ontario municipalities back First Nations’ proposal for a railway across traditional lands for Ring of Fire – by Len Gilles (Timmins Daily Press – May 19, 2015)

The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.

Martin was a guest speaker at the spring meeting of NEOMA, the Northeastern Ontario Municipal Association, which met in Iroquois Falls on Friday.

He outlined for municipal leaders from across the North how the plan is to build and east-west rail corridor from Moosonee, up to Kashechewan and then over to Webequie, where the Ring Of Fire mining prospects are located. Further to that, Martin said Mushkegowuk also wants to install a high voltage hydro transmission line to the same area.

The Ring of Fire is the name given to the vast deposit of chromite and nickel, located in the McFauld’s Lake and Webequie area, about 600 kilometres north-west of Timmins. The prospect is valued in the tens of billions of dollars.

After an extensive presentation by Grand Chief Martin on Friday, NEOMA members voted on, and approved, a resolution of support put forward by the City of Timmins, seeking formal support for the Mushkegowuk plan.

Before the resolution could be voted on, Cochrane mayor Peter Politis stood up to say he had a concern about the Timmins resolution, which he said had a “nuance” about the conceptual support for Mushkegowuk to privatize the rail service in Northeastern Ontario.

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Excerpt From Call of the Northland: Riding the Train That Nearly Toppled a Government – by Thomas Blampied

To order a copy of Call of the Northland: Riding the Train That Nearly Toppled a Government, click here: http://www.northland-book.net/buy.html

Historian, author and photographer Thomas Blampied has been interested in railways for as long as he can remember. Growing up east of Toronto, he spent summer evenings sitting trackside with his father watching streamlined VIA trains race past and long freight trains rumble by. From these early railway experiences grew a lifelong passion for railways and rail travel which has manifested itself through model railroading, photography, writing, railway preservation and the academic study of railway history. This is his fourth book about railways in Ontario. He has studied in both Canada and the United Kingdom and currently resides in Southern Ontario.

Chapter 4: The North

The next station was one I had been looking forward to for many years – Cobalt. Legend has it that the town’s silver bonanza was set off by one Fred La Rose, a blacksmith, who threw a hammer to scare away a fox. According to the tale, when his hammer missed the animal and hit the ground, it uncovered a vein of silver. While this story might be true, the credit for the first silver find goes to J.H. McKinley and Ernest Darragh, who were scouting for suitable timber for railway ties.

Their claim predated La Rose’s by a month and, besides, La Rose incorrectly identified his silver vein as copper. The approach to “Silver City,” renowned for its steep and winding streets, is truly special as the line carves a long, sweeping curve around the lakeshore before passing the station. We were one minute late at 4:21 but, with nobody there, we rolled right by the large station and on past the preserved mine buildings. This is what I had wanted to see for so long. Some of the most iconic shots of the ONR over the years have been taken from the road bridge overlooking this spot – with the mine to the left and the railway snaking around an “s” curve to the right.

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Excerpt From Call of the Northland: Riding the Train That Nearly Toppled a Government – by Thomas Blampied

To order a copy of Call of the Northland: Riding the Train That Nearly Toppled a Government, click here: http://www.northland-book.net/buy.html

Historian, author and photographer Thomas Blampied has been interested in railways for as long as he can remember. Growing up east of Toronto, he spent summer evenings sitting trackside with his father watching streamlined VIA trains race past and long freight trains rumble by. From these early railway experiences grew a lifelong passion for railways and rail travel which has manifested itself through model railroading, photography, writing, railway preservation and the academic study of railway history. This is his fourth book about railways in Ontario. He has studied in both Canada and the United Kingdom and currently resides in Southern Ontario.

Chapter 1: First Steps to the North

The day of the trip: before dawn. Up around five, I was packed and ready to go. My journey would take two trains: one west into Toronto and then one north to Cochrane. I had some breakfast, never much on travel or photo days, and got a ride to the Whitby Station. It was a cold and drizzly morning in late April as I waited on the platform for the 6:18 GO train to Toronto. I must have looked odd, standing with all my bags and winter coat in the rain, among the latest spring fashions.

The train arrived and I boarded with the commuters – all of them pushy and determined to have their seat. As usual, I sat up behind the crew, but was disappointed to see that the window separating the crew and passengers had been boarded up. I had liked looking through this window for years as I could see the track ahead from the crew’s point of view.

The weather did not improve as we rolled along the GO Subdivision (the operational name for a particular stretch of track, a subdivision is often referred to as a Sub), running parallel to Highway 401.

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[Ontario Northland] Corina Moore, you are ignoring history – by Thomas Blampied (Thomas Blampied’s Railway World – May 9, 2015)

http://thomasblampied.blogspot.ca/

This past week saw the interim president of the ONTC, Corina Moore, spoke at the FONOM meeting in Sudbury. Unfortunately, her comments were not helpful and have alienated workers at the 113-year-old transportation commission.

As reported by CBC, Moore explained that the Commission was in a “crisis situation”. I couldn’t agree more. As my research into the ONTC showed, it has been losing money for the past few decades as inadequate subsidies and the precarious economic and demographic situation in the north made for a difficult market to operate in.

However, Moore went a step further, saying that the ONTC needed a “culture shift” away from “entitlement” and towards a more competitive framework. This reflects previous statements she made regarding the need for a more competitive organization, but also suggests that the ONTC has been some sort of spoilt child. I disagree, my experience with the ONTC showed hard-working people who provided essential services connecting, not only northeastern Ontario, but also the north to the south.

My real issue, however, is a comment that the CBC reports Moore made to the effect that “the future will be challenging because the company hasn’t seen much change in 113 years.”

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Ontario Northland president: “We want to move away from entitlement” (CBC News Sudbury – May 8, 2015)

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/sudbury

“We want to move away from the fact that, you know, we deserve things because we’re Ontario Northland.” Corina Moore says the company is bleeding.

The interim president of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission gave a stark warning to municipal leaders gathered in Sudbury this week for the Northern Ontario Federation of Municipalities conference.

“That highlights crisis situation for the agency,” said Moore. She said it has reached a pivotal point where Ontario Northland can’t continue to lose money if it expects to exist in the future.

Moore admitted the future will be challenging because the company hasn’t seen much change in 113 years.

“We want to move away from entitlement. We want to move away from the fact that we deserve things because we’re Ontario Northland. We are here to say that, starting now, we are focused on performance-based thinking and the way we do things. It’s a culture shift and it’s a tough one.”

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