Feds put up $1M for Man. farmers’ shortline

A new shortline railway serving farmers in south-central Manitoba has picked up $1 million in federal Western Economic Diversification funds.

Boundary Trail Railway Co. (BTRC) is setting up a shortline to serve farmers and other businesses in the Morden, Manitou, Darlingford and La Riviere areas and the RMs of Stanley and Pembina.

BTRC, formed in June last year by a consortium of farmers, community and business leaders in the region, succeeded this spring in saving a total of 140 km of former Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) track from being pulled up for scrap.

BTRC’s business plan is to operate the track from Manitou to Morden and salvage the line it also owns between Killarney to Manitou. Manitou is about 35 km west of Morden, which in turn is about 110 km southwest of Winnipeg.

BTRC’s plans earlier last year had also included buying the western section of CPR’s track between Pilot Mound and Holmfield, Man., but CPR had already sold the salvage rights for that stretch to Cando Contracting of Brandon, Man., which had already begun to take up the track for salvage before BRTC could muster sufficient funds and support.

The province in May announced $615,000 in forgivable loans toward the BTRC project in its current scope.

“Federal funding was the last piece of the puzzle,” BTRC president Kevin Friesen said in the WED release, referring to the $1 million from the Community Adjustment Fund (CAF).

“We are confident that, with the federal government’s substantial funding announced today, BTRC is positioned to make a strong contribution not only for local producers, but in the economies of the communities served by the rail line.”

The communities served are expected to “benefit significantly” from the project, which would reduce hauling fees for farmers, thus increasing the profitability of local farm businesses.

The BTRC project, WED said, is also expected to “create and/or sustain full- and part-time employment opportunities; generate multiple commercial construction projects in several communities; create new commercial tax revenues and retain existing railway tax revenues for local governments; increase demand of materials and supplies from local businesses; enhance the profile of the local area for industries looking to locate in rural communities; and retain corporate revenues in the local community.”

Other CAF funding announced for Manitoba in the last few days includes $402,425 for an $804,450 project to bring water service to a new industrial park development at Dauphin, and $233,600 to help internationally market the “restored sport fishing amenities” at Lynn Lake, about 320 km northwest of Thompson.

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