Energy, Northern Development and Mines Minister Greg Rickford provided no specific timeline but offered a wait-and-see answer regarding provincial funding needed to preserve short-line railway service in northeastern Ontario.
During Question Period at Queen's Park on Sept. 25, Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Mike Mantha called out Ross Romano, MPP for Sault Ste. Marie and Rickford's parliamentary understudy, for not arranging a meeting between the minister and a task force lobbying for government support to keep the Huron Central Railway operating past December.
The railroad's parent company, Genesee & Wyoming Canada, maintains it will discontinue freight operations on the 173mile (278-kilometre) line between Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury if $43.2 million is not provided by the federal and provincial governments for much-needed track and railway crossing infrastructure improvements.
Mantha reminded the government that during the recent election campaign, Premier Doug Ford acknowledged that the railway was critical to the region's economy and promised that, if elected, funding would be made available through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund.
"So, if the issue is a priority for this government and not a partisan issue, why is it so difficult for the member of Sault Ste. Marie to arrange a meeting between the minister and representatives of the Huron Central Railway task force?"
Mantha first raised the alarm earlier this year about freight service potentially being...