Since the announced sale of the ONTC back in March, the unions representing ONTC workers have been working behind the scenes on a new plan to not only save the railway, but expand it too.
Announced yesterday, the plan calls for the ONTC to be transferred to a newly-created port authority - the James Bay & Lowlands Ports Trustee Corporation - thus allowing it to operate under the Canada Marine Act. A full assessment of the ONTC would then be undertaken to see where additional funding or restructuring would make for a more stable and viable entity. The plan also calls for a new railway line to be built to connect the current ONR to the lucrative 'Ring of Fire' mining sites in the James Bay lowlands, a so far untapped mineral resource.
While the ONTC would remain a publicly-owned entity, it would no longer operate under the current system and would be a more independent organisation, better able to evolve to meet new demands. The plan has attracted a good deal of support from northern politicians, mining companies and First Nations communities. The unions now hope to meet with provincial government ministers to discuss their new proposal.
For the past 110 years, the Ontario Northland Railway has provided vital infrastructure to mining in northern Ontario. The railway is perfectly suited to continue providing transportation and communication to an industry seeing a rebirth thanks to these newly-discovered mineral deposits.