The Badlands Rail Company (BRC) is preparing to make a final offer to purchase the rail line between Lyalta and Oyen.
This follows two proposals already submitted to CN from BRC who proposes to lease the Oyen to Lyalta rail line, and purchase the west line.
The line would be used for grain transportation and future community and economic development.
Their first offer was rejected, and the second one was counter-offered.
“The first offer was rejected with a number of areas to be improved on,” said Brad Wiebe from Palliser Regional Municipal Services.
“A few changes were made before being re-submitted, and the second one received a counter offer from CN and at that point, the valuations were quite far apart. That’s the issue right now. “
Since CN issued a Notice of Discontinuance at the end of December 2009, the BRC has worked hard raising funds to accompany an offer submitted to CN.
At the time they believed an offer would look like about $8.3 million and aimed to raise $250,000 to accompany the offer.
Wiebe confirmed they managed to raise close to this amount, however he told The Mail, “the original idea was to get enough to be able to accompany an offer in the five or 10 per cent range it might end up being. That was based on quite a bit lower numbers than what CN is looking for.”
He added it was going to be hard to get to a number CN was looking for, due to the numbers of risks involved - the line contains 110 bridges to maintain - and the fact that it has been sitting vacant for about two years so its maintenance has been differed for a long time.
“It doesn’t feel like they are helping,” said Wiebe, “They haven’t changed their offer in any way.”
Wiebe said BRC has a grant application in through the Green TRIP (Transit Incentives Program) and they are keeping the provincial government informed, and looking for funding opportunities.
BRC now has until August 16 to make their final offer and obtain an agreement in principle.
If no agreement has been reached by that time, CN is then allowed to advertise the next stage of the process, according to the Canadian Transportation Act, and this is to advertise the line to the provincial and municipal government.
If the government does not express an interest in the line, it then goes to any offers for any purposes said Wiebe.
“That’s when it can get a little dangerous, because then it doesn’t have to be Alberta’s railway, it could be for salvage, anything can be done.”
BRC is keen not to let the line go.
“I really feel that if we let it go, we are going to run into serious problems down the road, with transportation, fuel prices, tourism and a lot of potential industries relying on rail for transportation. If you don’t have that option, it’s just another kick to rural Alberta.”
“It’s been great with all the support and help that the group has had and has provided, a lot of people have put in a lot of hours into trying to make this happen,” he said.
“It has just been a little frustrating, we don’t seem to have the major provincial support so far that we are going to need to make this happen.”