Late last year, CN sent out a notice of discontinuance for the line.
Municipalities that are shareholders of Palliser Regional Municipal Services, have organized under the body, and are exploring the possibilities that have arose from CN initiating the discontinuance process.
“We are hoping to make it a continuance process,” said David Amos, CEO for Palliser Regional Municipal Services.
He explains they are looking at all the options, from continuing service, to what to do with the right of ways if there is no service. They are also to look at the costs involved with each plan of action. Recently Palliser was approved for a grant through Alberta Agriculture to explore what these options are.
“That has allowed us to proceed to the next stage, which involves public input,” said Amos. “We have scheduled two meetings; one in Hanna and one in Drumheller.”
The Hanna meeting is on Thursday, June 4 at the Hanna Community Center from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. The following Thursday, June 11, a meeting will be in Drumheller at the Drumheller Inn from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
“At the meeting we’ll give an overview of the discontinuance process, where we are at, what can be done and not done, and provide some examples of how other communities have reacted to closures,” said Amos. “Some have converted to rail trail systems, some have utilized the line for tourism purposes, some for short line operations for agriculture. We’ll have some examples and then I hope we can break out into working groups and give individuals an opportunity to discuss what opportunities they see with the rail line. Bring the group back together and learn what those opportunities are, and go from there.”
Part of the funding has allowed Palliser to research what other communities have done, as well as investigate to see what forms of assistance and incentives other jurisdictions have made available to like projects.
“This is the first opportunity for the public to have input. At this point we are brainstorming with them to generate ideas and if any of these ideas seem viable, we’ll look at them more in depth,” he said.