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Premier Kinew and Minister Vandal announce support for the Arctic Gateway Group in northern Manitoba

Press Release

February 23, 2024

Today in Churchill, Premier Wab Kinew and Dan Vandal, minister for PrairiesCan announced a joint investment of up to $60 million to the Arctic Gateway Group (AGG). This combined funding from the governments of Canada and Manitoba will finish work on the Hudson Bay Railway, start to redevelop the Port of Churchill, and further benefit the communities and sectors of the economy that depend on the Arctic Gateway Group’s operations.

The Arctic Gateway Group is a partnership of 41 First Nation and Bayline communities in Manitoba. The Hudson Bay Railway, owned and operated by the Arctic Gateway Group, is the only affordable year-round, all-weather mode of transportation for both passenger and freight traffic to access several northern Manitoba communities. The rail line is essential for supply chains, local food security and regional connectivity. Its unique community-ownership model represents ongoing steps toward economic reconciliation in Canada.

The investment announced today builds on the governments of Canada and Manitoba’s previous commitments to restore critical rail service to Churchill and surrounding communities. The Hudson Bay Railway is the backbone of the region, serving remote and Indigenous communities, and linking the Port of Churchill as the only deep-water Arctic port connected to the North American surface transportation network. The port is positioned to import and export commodities, critical minerals and natural resource products through the Arctic and to the world and strengthen Canada’s northern sovereignty and security.

In 2018, the federal government committed to the repair and maintenance of the Hudson Bay Railway. This saw the creation of the Arctic Gateway Group and the acquisition of the Hudson Bay Railway, Port of Churchill and Marine Tank Farm. In 2022, a collaboration between the Government of Canada and Province of Manitoba further ensured the railway remained operational for all who benefit from its use. Over the last two construction seasons, repair and maintenance work on the line replaced over 8.9 per cent (166,000) of rail ties, resurfaced two-million feet (610 kilometres) of track, upgraded and repaired over 10 bridges and installed fresh ballast rock on 23 per cent of the track between The Pas and Churchill, Manitoba.

Manitoba is home to 29 of the 31 critical minerals that have been identified as essential to the net-zero transition. As a gateway to the Arctic, the Hudson Bay Railway and Port of Churchill are important national assets to facilitate northern economic development and reconciliation in partnership with Indigenous Peoples.

Quotes

“The Port of Churchill makes Manitoba a maritime province, and both the port and the rail line offer so much potential when it comes to international trade, energy exports and building out the supply chains that create good jobs in Northern Manitoba. Our team fought to repair the rail line because we understand it is the backbone of the northern economy and a vital connection to food and fuel for the families that live there. We’re proud to partner with the Government of Canada to make this important investment.” – Premier Wab Kinew

“Our government is proud to partner with Indigenous and northern communities and the Province of Manitoba to make sure that people and businesses are connected and able to build a prosperous northern economy. By investing in the Hudson Bay Railway, we are investing in the future. This means jobs will be created, mining and forestry opportunities will open, and Bayline communities will have the opportunity to position themselves as a true gateway to the Arctic and the world.” – Dan Vandal, minister for PrairiesCan

“This announcement demonstrates the Government of Canada’s commitment to collaboration and partnerships with Indigenous peoples, other levels of government, as well as business and community leaders.  Together we are working toward a strong Prairie economy and finding ways to respond in a positive way to climate change. The Hudson Bay Railway provides a much-needed service to northern communities and is a vehicle to open the door to trade opportunities.” – Terry Duguid, parliamentary secretary to the prime minister and special advisor for water

“Investing in transportation services in northern Manitoba is a priority for our government, and we’re very pleased to be partnering with Indigenous Nations and the federal government to ensure the Hudson Bay Railway remains a safe and reliable transportation route. This investment will create jobs, advance our critical mineral strategy, and help us work toward our net-zero targets.” – Manitoba Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Lisa Naylor

“This investment in the Port of Churchill and the Hudson Bay railway is a strong boost for economic development in the Town of Churchill and the north as a whole. This key infrastructure project will better place Manitoba as an integral transportation hub and help grow our trade relations.” – Manitoba Economic Development, Investment, Trade and Natural Resources Minister Jamie Moses

“The government partnerships we have established allow us to invest and upgrade the Hudson Bay Railway where the level of service and reliability is now being achieved. Additionally, we can turn our attention on expansion and opportunities through re-development of the port of Churchill. As an Indigenous and community-owned company, we recognize the importance of this northern infrastructure corridor and will continue to partner with industry, our strategic partners in the Kivalliq region of Nunavut and governments. This is a significant announcement for our region, for Manitoba and for Canada.” – Mayor Mike Spence, Town of Churchill, and chair of the Arctic Gateway Group board of directors

Quick facts

The Hudson Bay Railway is critical to Canada’s national interests, northern supply chains, local food security, and the general health, well-being and livelihoods of the 29,000 northern Manitobans that depend on the rail line.

This investment will help expand good-paying jobs in northern Manitoba and assist the region’s economic growth while facilitating trade and commerce.

Since 2021, AGG has seen a 250 per cent increase in re-supply exports through the port that enables AGG to announce twice-weekly freight service starting this spring. Further strategic partnerships and important relationships with the Kivalliq region of Nunavut continue to advance.

In 2023, the Port of Churchill saw the return of its first cruise ship in decades as hundreds of international tourists arrived creating additional economic benefits to the region. AGG anticipates additional cruise ships during the 2024 and 2025 seasons.

Earlier this winter, Arctic Gateway Group announced an agreement with Hudbay Minerals Inc. for the re-establishment of a northern trade critical minerals supply route that will see zinc concentrate shipped out of the port in 2024.

The governments of Canada and Manitoba are working together to support the Arctic Gateway Group and to demonstrate their commitment to the rail line and the communities that depend on it.

Closer collaboration between the federal government and other levels of government and Prairie partners on their economic development priorities is a key objective of the Framework to Build a Green Prairie Economy:  https://canada.ca/en/prairies-economic-development/programs/green-prairie-economy.html.

Associated links

https://canada.ca/en/prairies-economic-development.html

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For more information:

  • Public information, contact Manitoba Government Inquiry: 1-866-626-4862 or 204-945-3744.
  • Media requests for general information, contact Communications and Engagement: newsroom@gov.mb.ca.
  • Media requests for ministerial comment, contact Cabinet Communications: cabcom@manitoba.ca.

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