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Feds, province spending $147 million on Hudson Bay Railway

Investments over two years will support the operation and maintenance of the rial line between The Pas and Churchill as well funding upgrades.
dan vandal may 2019
Federal Northern Affairs Minister Dan Vandal during a visit to Thompson in May 2019. Vandal announced Aug. 3 that the federal and provincial governments will spend over $147 million combined on Northern Manitoba’s Hudson Bay Railway over the next two years.

The governments of Manitoba and Canada are investing nearly $150 million in Northern Manitoba’s Hudson Bay Railway over the next two years.

The funding, which includes up to $73.8 million from the provincial government and more than $60 million from the federal government, will be used to support operations and maintenance for the rail line that runs from The Pas to Churchill, as well as upgrades to the railway, which is the only year-round land transportation link to several communities that lie along it, including Churchill on the shore of Hudson Bay.

“The Hudson Bay Railway is an engine for economic development, job growth and tourism,” said Premier Heather Stefanson during the Aug. 3 announcement of the joint commitment at The Forks in Winnipeg. “Building up our northern economy is essential to our province’s success. I’m confident that there will be economic benefits and international trade opportunities.” 

Many speakers at the press conference noted that the Russian invasion of Ukraine has impacted the ability of the world to rely on exports from those countries and that it is advantageous to Canada to have multiple routes for shipping grain and other products to the world.

“Today’s announcement is a very significant capital investment in a real important piece of strategic infrastructure for Manitoba,” said deputy premier Cliff Cullen, adding that upgrades to enable trains to travel faster will increased the volume of freight shipped on the rail line and create additional opportunities for the Port of Churchill as well.

Both the port and the railway are owned by the Arctic Gateway Group, a partnership of 41 First Nations and Bayline communities.

Describing the HBR as the backbone of Northern Manitoba, federal Northern Affairs Minister Dan Vandal said it is a unique national asset.

“We need to maintain these assets and we need to address any deficiencies,” Vandal said.

Mike Spence, mayor of Churchill and co-chair of the Arctic Gateway Group, said the government funding will increase the value of the northern transportation link.

“This is precisely what’s required to unlock the true economic potential and attract further private sector investments to bring prosperity and opportunities to the Port of Churchill.”

Fox Lake Cree Nation Chief Morris Beardy, who is on the Arctic Gateway Group’s board of directors, said people from his community, which relies on the HBR, are among those completing vital work on the rail line, such as the replacement of 10,000 railway ties.

“It’s a great news story for our north,” he said.