It's potentially another step forward for a return of passenger rail service to South River and Northern Ontario. Corina Moore, president and chief executive officer of Ontario Northland, has written to Mayor Jim Coleman asking for a meeting to discuss passenger service. Ontario Northland is currently working with the Ministry of Transportation and Metrolinx on making a case for a return of passenger rail service to Northern Ontario. The proposal calls for the train to travel from Toronto to either Timmins or Cochrane with 13 scheduled stops along the tracks. South River council earlier sent a letter to Moore explaining why it should be one of the 13 stops if passenger rail service returns. Moore tells Coleman the proposed meeting would focus on the transportation needs of South River and the general area. Moore is asking that the meeting be private and in addition to Coleman, senior municipal staff should be present including the chief administration officer in addition to personnel who represent economic development and tourism. During the council's regular meeting Monday, elected officials talked about adding more members of council to the proposed closed meeting. Clerk administrator Don McArthur is now putting together possible meeting dates that work for all parties. Moore also says Ontario Northland wants to visit South River to talk about the old South River Train Station, where the Northlander regularly stopped years ago. The building is mostly empty except for a section which now serves as a museum. The municipality has applied to the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation for $190,000 to see if the building is structurally sound and what it will take to make it usable as a train station. In her letter, Moore says the business case that's being put together is multi-faceted and is intended to meet a number of rail passenger needs, including people travelling for specialized medical services, those looking at business opportunities, students attending post-secondary schools or people who are just vacationing and want to use the train to get to their destination. Moore also tells Coleman it's Ontario Northland's goal that should passenger rail return, the agency's expanded and enhanced bus service will be integrated seamlessly with the rail program. Moore says this would connect communities with either bus or rail service or both. Moore also says regardless where the 13 stops are eventually located, the various groups are working on a plan to bring back a regional train service that will be both modern and innovative. The timeline to complete the work on the business case is next spring.
Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.
Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The North Bay Nugget