Manitoba shortline group secures financing

A southern Manitoba farmer group’s plans to run grain cars on a former Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) subdivision took a jump forward Friday as it announced its financing is in place to complete the deal.

Boundary Trail Railway Co. (BTRC) said it has finalized its financing to complete the purchase of CPR’s former La Riviere rail subdivision, running from Morden, Man. to La Riviere, about 45 km west. The planned deal also includes a part of CPR’s former Napinka rail subdivision, which ran from La Riviere west to Holmfield.

BTRC said Friday that it expects to complete its deal with CPR by April 1 and to be “ready to operate” by mid-April.

The shortline group is also still taking orders for the sale of gravel from the rail right-of-way west of Binney, also part of the assets being purchased now that the rails and ties have been pulled up for salvage.

“BTRC believes it has orders in hand representing 35 of the available 55 miles of gravel,” the group said.

BTRC’s plans earlier in 2008 had included buying the western section of CPR’s track between Pilot Mound and Holmfield, 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.

BTRC then set its sights on buying just the eastern stretch, still owned by CPR and already scheduled for salvaging. That included 37 km of track from Binney Corner, near St. Leon, to Morden. CPR and BTRC signed an agreement in principle on that track last August, pending financing.

The sale will also give BTRC the right-of-way for almost 130 km of the now-dismantled La Riviere subdivision and Napinka subdivision.

Nevertheless, “we think we are going to own some very valuable real estate,” BTRC lawyer Art Stacey told the Manitoba Co-operator in October.

“We will own the ballast from Binney west, the gravel the rail line sits on, and the land, which is a 99-foot wide right-of-way,” he told contributor Kim Langen.

The group hoped last fall to secure $1.5 million through a share sale and get financing for another $2 million, the Co-operator reported. Backers have included Thunder Bay, Ont. grain handling firm Mission Terminal, which plans to administer the BTRC line’s producer car-loading program; the Morden-born Winnipeg businessman John Buhler; and the local Rural Municipality of Pembina.

BTRC said Friday that it plans to hold its inaugural general meeting of shareholders on March 19 at Manitou, about 35 km west of Morden.

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