An information meeting was held on Thursday, February 4 organized by The Drumheller Chamber of Commerce and the Town of Drumheller Economic Development Task Force.
The purpose was to raise awareness to businesses in Drumheller about the economic impact of buying, leasing and operating the rail west of Oyen to east of Lyalta.
Alan Hampton, a director on the board, gave a presentation to approximately 15 local business owners and residents to highlight the benefits to businesses in Drumheller.
The focus up to now has been to seek commitments for shareholders and put together a $250,000 deposit to accompany an offer to CNR to purchase the rail. The group have so far acquired around $150,000 in sales of share.
Local producers have also been approached and a survey is in place to ascertain the amount of grain haulage they would want to use the rail line for.
The group is continuing to seek commitment from interested shareholders but they are also directing their efforts to ensure business people and communities are aware of the economic impact purchasing this line will have. Ray Telford, of the Town of Drumheller Economic Development Task Force explained: “If we lose the railway, we will lose out on future opportunities. For instance, every so often, major companies try to relocate in Alberta, one of their top three questions is ‘are you located near a rail line?’ so if the rail line was out, we would be taken right off the opportunity list.”
Alan Hampton told The Mail : “We are also looking for commitment from people who are going to be using the line...if you want a rail you have got to be able to operate the rail, and to do this, we need traffic.”
Other suggestions included local businesses that could use the rail line to ship their products to the area, with tourism being another area that could take advantage of the rail line for tourism tours from Calgary to Drumheller via Rosebud in the future.
Patrice Wolf, owner of the Inn at Heartwood, attended the meeting and is looking at becoming a shareholder. She explained to The Mail “I certainly would want to be promoting a commuter train, to bring the bodies into Drumheller. With the conventions facilities going up, I think we could definitely make it pay. I think it is going to be a win-win because the grain producers will want a train to lower their overheads and we want a train to come through town to bring the tourists.”
CN has now been notified by the group that they will be making an offer and the deadline has been relaxed from February 18 to an unkown date as yet but Hampton is expecting the bid will need to be made during the first week of April.
Beforehand, a full due diligence will be completed to answer questions about land contamination and maintenance required on the 109 bridges on the line.
If you would like more information about this project, please visit The Badlands Railway Company, now a numbered company, at www.blrail.net.