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MRC Pontiac goes on the offensive to save their railway

By Christina Van Starkenburg

MRC Pontiac Warden Michael McCrank presents a list of requests that the county has for the federal  and provincial governments and for CN Rail to help prevent the removal of the rail.

MRC Pontiac Warden Michael McCrank presents a list of requests that the county has for the federal and provincial governments and for CN Rail to help prevent the removal of the rail.

LITCHFIELD - 

Monday at the entrance to the industrial park in Litchfield, the Municipal Regional County (MRC) Pontiac held a press conference to address the concerns that communities within the county have about the removal of the CN railway.

Pontiac County Warden Michael McCrank explained the problems that will arise and have already shown up because of the dismantling of the railway. He also presented a list of the county’s requests to the federal government, provincial government and Canadian National (CN).

The reason that MRC Pontiac is so concerned about the removal of the rail is that the economic situation in the area has not recovered from the forestry crisis in 2008. Since then, Pontiac County has been struggling to find new ways to bring economic stability to the region. However, so far it has encountered many problems which have prevented it from expanding industry in the area.

McCrank explained that one of the ways that MRC Pontiac has tried to bring jobs to the region was by requesting a major highway in the area, or highway 148 becoming part of the Quebec strategic road network. Both of those options would encourage tourism in the area.

“Not only do we not have an autoroute, but in spite of many attempts, including a request to adopt special legislation, highway 148 in the Pontiac is still excluded from the Quebec strategic road network, thus preventing us from having official tourism infrastructures,” expressed the frustrated warden.

McCrank stressed that “The Pontiac is not waging this battle for the benefit of a small interest group, it is merely positioning itself in a continuously developing world where those who will stand out will be those who kept their railway.”

The reason that keeping the railway will help the Pontiac stand out is it will allow the industries there to transport goods to Ottawa in 45 minutes. Then from Ottawa the products can be connected to the rest of North America through the rail lines.

Some of the requests McCrrank asked of the governments were to promote the county as a place for industrial development, adopt a moratorium on the removal of the railway and help the county market its resources.

Pontiac County also requested that CN stop dismantling the rails and to either make the cost of buying the railway competitive or go back to servicing the line.

“This battle goes far beyond saving a simple rail line; it’s a battle for an entire region struggling to survive,” said McCrank.

Christina Van Starkenburg is a Daily Observer multimedia journalist.

c.vanstarkenburg@sunmedia.ca


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