Farmers dismayed over Port of Churchill closure

Keystone Agricultural Producers, July 27

KAP president Dan Mazier is calling on the federal government to step in with immediate action to keep the Port of Churchill running until the end of the 2016 shipping season, following yesterday’s closure.

“This is a major blow to us, especially when there appears to be an exceptionally large crop coming,” said Mazier. “The last time we had a large crop, grain movement through the port was up 50 per cent over the previous year.

“We’ve had so may issues shipping our grain east and west to port, and this was an excellent option. If ever there was a case for government intervention, this is it.”

Mazier says he is very surprised because OmniTrax, the port’s owner, indicated very recently that the coming season was looking good.

“And now the company is saying there isn’t enough grain coming in – something doesn’t add up,” he said.

Mazier is also asking the federal government to come up with a plan that will ensure the port opens for the 2017 season, and beyond.

“We don’t want to lose this facility permanently, and the longer it stays shut, the more possible that scenario becomes,” he said.

The Churchill facility was owned by the federal government until the mid-90s, when it was sold to OmniTrax.

Winnipeg Free Press – July 26

Silence deafening as Churchill shutdown shock spreads
By Martin Cash

A day after the potentially devastating layoffs at the Port of Churchill, none of the key players who have a role in determining the northern community’s future did anything to keep hopes afloat.

While residents in Churchill were reacting to the shock of the sudden layoff that affects more than 70 of the town’s workforce, the port’s owner Omnitrax was nowhere to be seen or heard. Moreover, representatives from both Ottawa and the province, who have been key partners in the community’s economic history, only relied on carefully worded statements that said little.

Full story: http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/business/churchill-mp-outraged-over-sudden-layoffs-at-port-388301782.html
Winnipeg Free Press – July 26

Politics trumps economics of keeping Churchill port open
By Dan Lett

What in the world is Omnitrax up to?

The Denver-based owner of the Hudson Bay Railway and Port of Churchill shocked many this week with a sudden decision to shut down its port facilities and lay off its 90 employees. In doing so, Omnitrax has put the future of the port, the community it supports, and the railway that serves as a lifeline for northern Manitoba, very much in doubt.

Full story at http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/politics-trumps-economics-of-keeping-churchill-port-open-388332642.html
Toronto Star – July 26

Churchill, Manitoba, ‘shocked’ over surprise port closure
By Steve Lambert

Politicians, workers and farmers say they were blindsided by news that the Port of Churchill in northern Manitoba is effectively shutting down.

“It totally came out of nowhere, actually, and the community is just shocked by it all,” Churchill Mayor Mike Spence said Tuesday.

Full story at: https://www.thestar.com/business/2016/07/26/churchill-manitoba-shocked-over-surprise-port-closure.html

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