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$60M announced for Churchill’s railway, port

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Northern Manitoba’s economic future is getting a $60 million boost.

On Friday, the provincial and federal governments pledged $30 million a piece to finish work on the Hudson Bay Railway and to start redeveloping the Port of Churchill.

The funding will be distributed to Arctic Gateway Group (AGG) – a partnership between 41 First Nations and Bayline communities in the region. AGG owns both the railway and port.

According to a joint news release, The Hudson Bay Railway serves about 29,000 residents in northern communities. It is the only year-round transportation available for passengers and freight traffic. It also links the Port of Churchill as the only deep-water Arctic port to North America’s land-based transportation network.

“The Port of Churchill makes Manitoba a maritime province, and that is absolutely crucial to the future of our provincial economic success,” Premier Wab Kinew said Friday. “Not only do [the Port and railway] allow supplies to reach these communities and to Nunavut, but this is also going to help increase our status as a trading province.”

Kinew and Dan Vandal, the federal minister for PrairiesCan, made the announcement in Churchill.

“Simply put, Hudson's Bay railway is the backbone of Northern Manitoba,” Vandal said. “The rail line is essential for Northern supply chains for local food security, and for small businesses and tourism operators.”

The railway investment is expected to enhance supply chains, food security, and regional connectivity in the north. Work to repair and upgrade the rail line from The Pas to Churchill has been going on for the past two years.

Meantime, the Port of Churchill’s redevelopment aims to expand critical mineral and natural resource trade through the Arctic. The joint release notes Manitoba has 29 of the 31 critical minerals essential to net-zero transitions. In December, the Arctic Gateway Group and Hudbay Minerals Inc. announced an agreement to ship zinc concentrate out of the port in 2024.

Churchill Mayor Mike Spence, who also chairs the Arctic Gateway Group, welcomed the investment with open arms.

“They share the vision that we have… recognize the value of investments into this national strategic asset in Canada's North,” Spence said. “Today's investment will allow us to complete major capital improvement on the rail line and will allow us to shift and focus on redeveloping our port.”

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