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At its February 22 council meeting, the Town of Huntsville joined the City of North Bay in urging Ontario Premier Doug Ford to stick to his campaign promise made during the 2018 provincial election and bring back the Ontario Northlander passenger rail between Toronto and Cochrane, which was discontinued in 2012.
In the Northern Ontario transportation plan released by the province on December 10, 2020, reference was made to the resumption of the service, but no timeline was given.
The resolution passed by council called on the premier, and Ontario Minister of Transportation Caroline Mulroney, to make good on the promise to bring back passenger rail prior to the next provincial election in 2022. It also supported North Bay in calling on the federal government “to assist in funding the annual expenses of the Northlander and the Polar Bear Express as they provide a valuable connection to the James Bay coast.”
Huntsville Mayor Karin Terziano read the resolution, also passed by North Bay, which referenced the economic importance of the train, particularly on the north. “Reliable and affordable passenger rail transportation in our area and other areas of the north is essential infrastructure for economic development of our resource-based industries, tourism, and access to health care…” read Terziano.
She told council she’d been on a call with Ontario Northland and part of the message was everything that can be done to lobby for the return of the service helps.
“We know we’ve got lots of passionate rail people [who have been] fighting to get it returned here and many of them believe it’s going to happen,” she said.
Council unanimously passed the resolution which was to be forwarded to the City of North Bay and the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities, as well as MP Scott Aitchison and MPP Norm Miller for their endorsement and support.
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