Wheatland County, seconded by Starland County, are presenting a resolution at this week’s Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties (AAMDC) Convention aimed at reassessing policies regarding rail discontinuance.
The fall AAMDC Convention is from November 16-19 in Edmonton. The organization’s mission statement is “through the provision of advocacy, trade and insurance services, the AAMDC will assist rural municipalities in achieving strong and effective local government.” These resolutions guide the organization in arriving these goals. CAO of Starland County Ross Rawlusyk, says the goal of the resolution, which Ben Armstrong, Reeve of Wheatland County worked on to draft, is to garner more support for rural municipalities where there is a threat of rail discontinuance.
The resolution reads, “that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties urge the provincial and federal governments to re-assess its policies and procedures regarding discontinued rail lines and, upon notification of a rail line discontinuance, enter into discussions with the involved local municipalities for the purpose of exploring and pursuing partnership opportunities to acquire these rail lines for the purpose of utilization as future regional transportation and utility corridors.”
The resolution states many of these corridors are valuable to municipalities.
“Most of the rail lines were constructed in the early years to reach communities scattered across the nation and, given the lack of settlement, the lines were usually the shortest distance between two locations. Given the population and settlement growth to-day, it would be impossible to re-construct such a continuous corridor. To lose these rail corridors would be detrimental; to have the vision to utilize them for future servicing would be beneficial for future generations.”
The corridors could be used for transportation, or placement of utilities.
Rawlusyk says there is a role for government in these types of projects. Recently surrounding municipalities are exploring the possibilities arising from the discontinuance of a rail line from Lyalta to Oyen. Rawlusyk says the net salvage of the line is in the millions of dollars, but there is a chance it could be purchased for much less, and utilized.
“It makes sense to do it, but we need a bigger partner,” he says.
The resolution passed at the Central Alberta zone, enabling it to be presented at the convention. The resolution session is today, November 18.