The Union of Canadian Transportation Employees (UCTE) is calling on the Federal Government to re-invest in the Churchill Region. They want they them to work with stakeholders to not only re-open the Hudson Bay Railway, but to ensure that the Port of Churchill is re-opened and considered for grain and other transportation again. They are also requesting that the Federal Government give prime consideration to the Churchill Region for a planned Canadian Coast Guard facility to serve the North and Arctic Regions.
The National President of UCTE said that a series of decisions by several federal governments have caused the problems in the region. First, by giving away the railway and Port of Churchill to a private company who squandered the resources and allowed the railway to fall into disrepair. Then, by selling the Canadian Wheat Board which was the prime customer of both the Port and the railway.
“This is a government-made economic tragedy,” said Dave Clark, UCTE National President. “They caused this hardship for the people of Churchill and they must offer them support to help re-build their lives and their community.”
The union makes the case for Churchill in a background paper which outlines the many advantages that Churchill has to offer the Canadian Coast Guard. (Copy attached).
Some highlights of that paper note that Churchill:
- Is the only deep-water Arctic port in Canada
- Has up-to date storage, maintenance and repair facilities
- Is part of an international trade route that connects North America to both Europe and Asia
- Has a fully trained workforce and the potential to draw, train and develop from a large Indigenous population to meet its current and future needs
- Has one of the largest and most effective airports in the North
- Has one of the longest open shipping seasons in the North
- Staff have been trained to handle hazardous goods and know how to take the appropriate care and caution with all dangerous goods and cargo
The union calls on the federal government to help Churchill to continue its long service to Canada and Canadians. They believe that locating the proposed CCG facility in Churchill would be an economic lifeline to a community and region in economic and social distress. It would help diversify the local economy, build on existing strengths and create capacity for future growth. For a relatively small investment the people of the community and throughout the Arctic can begin to realize the commercial, recreational and tourism potentials.
“It’s easy to make a case for Churchill,” said Clark. “We can provide a greater Canadian presence in our North and Arctic regions, protect Canadian sovereignty, allow for the free flow of people and goods into and throughout the region, and ensure environmental protection and economic development. It is a win-win-win scenario and we call on the federal government to act on this recommendation immediately.”