The Algoma Passenger Train Working Group, led by Chief Jason Gauthier of Missanabie Cree First Nation, is holding a Town Hall Meeting on Tues., Nov. 1 at 7:00 pm (SSM City Hall, Russ Ramsay Room) to provide an opportunity for the many people concerned about the absence of the passenger train to come together to show how urgently the train is needed. Businesses, residents, trappers and others will be describing the impact that the loss of the passenger train over the past year and a half has had on them.
Chief Jason Gauthier of Missanabie Cree First Nation, who is leading the efforts to reinstate the passenger train, will give an update about recent meetings he and Al Errington had with officials at Transport Canada and the Ministry of Indigenous and Northern Affairs. Chief Gauthier will also discuss his letters to the Prime Minster asking for a meeting to discuss:
- First Nations’ inability to access their traditional territories,
- residents of remote communities inability to access their places,
- loss of $38-48 million annually to our regional economy,
- loss of 170-220 jobs in our district, and
- loss of $5.1-6.4 million in tax generation resulting from the loss of the passenger train.
Representatives from the remote communities along the line will tell us why Transport Canada is so wrong in claiming their communities do not exist. These are well organized year-round communities which have NO safe, reliable, publicly accessible forms of land transportation other than the train.
Most importantly we look forward to discussing next steps to bring back the train.
The meeting will begin with a First Nation drumming by Maggie Maracle and Christine Kay as well as some train tunes performed by Britta Wolfert and Jeff Hinich to boost our spirits and keep us determined to get back our train.
MPs Terry Sheehan and Carol Hughes have been invited. We are counting on MP Sheehan to dramatically increase his efforts to convince his own Liberal Government, particularly Transport Minister Garneau, that the passenger train is essential for our local economy at this time of huge economic downturn, and to access remote communities. We expect him to take on this struggle as he stated he would when he ran for office. In the press release that he issued a year ago on Sept. 21, 2015 he states:
“We have seen the economic impacts of the service shutdown. We have property owners that are not able to access their properties or properly winterize them. The Sault and area has suffered without this important service…
As MP, it is one’s job to lobby on behalf of the constituents that you represent….. As your MP, I can guarantee you that I will be working my hardest and doing my best to represent and fight for your interests.” (posted on Saultonline.com)
And a Q104.3 reporter quoted Mr. Sheehan speaking at a Coalition for Algoma Passenger Trains Meeting in Sept. 2015:
“Sheehan mentioned his awareness of the train issue more than a year ago as Acting Mayor. Sheehan told those in attendance at City Hall that a decision to take away the 2.2 million subsidy from the ACR passenger rail service ‘made no sense’. He suggested that the funding was taken away to balance the books while saying that there is a need to sustain and expand rail across Canada.”
Everyone is encouraged to attend this important town hall meeting.
Light refreshments will be available and Painted Land DVDs and CAPT t-shirts will be for sale.
The Coalition for Algoma Passenger Trains (CAPT) is a not-for-profit organization comprised of individuals, businesses, First Nations, municipalities and other interests who recognize the significant economic, social, cultural, historical and environmental value of passenger rail servicing and interconnecting the people, businesses and communities of Northern Ontario’s Algoma District to each other, Ontario, Canada and the rest of the world. To accomplish this goal, CAPT has been working with local groups to organize events in the community that utilize the railway as a means of advertising and demonstrating its usefulness in the area.