Bayham councillors voted 4-1 on Thursday, Dec. 16, to contribute $7,100 toward the cost of repairs to a level railway crossing on Green Line as a one-time investment in the restoration of a short-line railway serving the St. Thomas to Delhi Corridor.
CN’s Cayuga “Subdivision,” as the stretch of tracks is called, was previously operated by Trillium Railway, another short-line operation.
Trillium shut down locally, and CN had been moving toward ripping up the tracks.
However, SCOR (South Central Ontario Region) Economic Development Corporation stepped in and recruited GIO Railways to take over the line.
GIO Vice-President Neil Johnson wrote to Bayham councillors, asking for assistance with improving the railway crossing on Green Line. The company itself planned to invest $51,000 in the crossing, and asked Bayham to kick in $7,100.
Mayor Ed Ketchabaw said the municipality was also responsible for the road approaches to the crossing, and those repairs would cost $11,000.
Bayham Administrator Thomas Thayer explained the $7,100 was sought for GIO for the cost of the wood installed between the rails in the crossing.
He said similar requests were being made of other municipalities the line crossed through.
Deputy Mayor Rainey Weisler asked if the $7,100 was really the responsibility of the railway to pay.
Public Works Manager Steve Adams said, “That is correct. Federal regulations are it’s up to rail operator to maintain the travelled portion (of a road) between rails.”
Councillor Valerie Donnell asked if the municipality had to pay for repairing the road as it approached the track on either side.
“The approaches are in really rough shape,” Mr. Adams said. “We are pretty concerned this winter our plows might catch the edge of this wood.”
Cr. Susan Chilcott asked if CN still owned the rail line, shouldn’t it be responsible for repairing the approaches.
Mr. Adams said in the past, when Trillium was operating the line, the agreement was that CN would maintain crossings.
However, he added, not much had been done in the way of maintenance over the past 10 years, and under the new agreement, GIO was responsible for looking after crossings.
Deputy Mayor Rainey Weisler maintained when it came to crossings in Bayham, GIO should be doing the work. “I am uncomfortable kicking in money from the municipality and setting a precedent.”
Treasurer Lorne James said GIO has invested a fair amount of money and the continued operation of the rail line could result in future economic development in Bayham.
He also pointed out GIO paid taxes on the land.
Ketchabaw questioned if this contribution would be just for one crossing, or all of them.
Mr. Adams said Gio wanted to get this crossing addressed as soon as possible as it was the worst, and then the plan was to do one per year.
There could be future requests for support, he added.
Mayor Ketchabaw said, “It’s an opportunity to provide a bit of an economic driver from New Sarum through to Courtland. There could be economic spin-offs in Bayham, but I think more to the east of us and west of us.”
He suggested helping with this crossing, but then making it clear GIO would be on its own.
That was moved by Cr. Dan Froese and seconded by Cr. Chilcott.
All council members except for Deputy Mayor Rainey Weisler voted to adopt the motion.
Rob Perry, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Aylmer Express