Town Hall Meeting Nov. 1, 2016

November 1, 2016

Town Hall Meeting

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Latest media coverage

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Group of Seven Tourism Opportunities, says Michael Burtch

The Coalition for Algoma Passenger Trains received this important letter from Michael Burtch, artist and art historian and former Director of the Art Gallery of Algoma:

"The McGuffins and I began doing intensive research in Algoma in 2008 with the expressed purpose of locating, documenting and interpreting Group of Seven painting sites along the ACR corridor. It was that corridor that gave access to these now famous Canadian painters to a landscape that provided inspiration for their iconic works of art. In 2013 White Pine Pictures began to document our search and in October 2015 the documentary film Painted Land, in Search of the Group of Seven premiered at the Vancouver International Film Festival. The Georgia Straight called it a "must-see" film, and an "eye opener". The film has been broadcast repeatedly on TVO with plans for more broadcasts from the Documentary Channel and Yes TV. It has been screened to full houses in cities from Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg and Yellowknife to Toronto, Oakville, Hamilton, Ottawa, Kingston, Kitchener, Montreal and Wolfville, NS, cities in Michigan, and others too numerous to list. The film was selected by the Ontario media Development Corporation to launch its 10th Anniversary celebration at the Bloor St. Cinema in Toronto and on June 22, the Directors Guild of Canada announced that it was one of four nominees, out of 260 submissions, for the prestigious Allan King Award of Excellence in Documentary Film.

This film has shone a spotlight on Algoma and the region's importance in the shaping of a vision of Canada, and our project would have been almost impossible to realize had it not been for the passenger train and the access to these heritage locations. Gary and Joanie and I attend as many of these screening as possible and one of the first questions we get during the Question and Answer sessions is, can visitors bring their canoes and camping gear on the train and have the Group of Seven experience themselves. We sadly have to answer no; not at this point in time! This is a travesty, a travesty made more poignant at a time when the province has launched a new initiative to re-brand the province using the Group of Seven legacy, particularly in Algoma. The cancellation of the passenger train has also had a negative impact on educators who want to follow the lead that Algoma University established by offering art courses on the very locations that are now becoming familiar even to international audiences. The cancellation has also curtailed the Group of Seven/Glenn Gould Train Event, an annual tour that attracted participants from far reaches of this country and the United States. I urge the Federal Government to reconsider its position and provide the funding that is so urgently needed.

Michael Burtch
Art Historian and former Director, Art Gallery of Algoma"

On the eve of the annual Group of Seven and Glenn Gould Train Event, CAPT is sharing Burtch's letter with the media and the broader public to underline the missed tourism opportunities that the cancellation of the passenger train is causing for businesses in Sault Ste. Marie and Algoma district.

About CAPT
The Coalition for Algoma Passenger Trains (CAPT) is a not-for-profit organization comprised of individuals, businesses, First Nations, municipalities and other interests who recognize the significant economic, social, cultural, historical and environmental value of passenger rail servicing and interconnecting the people, businesses and communities of Northern Ontario's Algoma District to each other, Ontario, Canada and the rest of the world. To accomplish this goal, CAPT has been working with local groups to organize events in the community that utilize the railway as a means of advertising and demonstrating its usefulness in the area.-30-
Media Contacts
Dr. Linda Savory Gordon
Phone: 705-949-2301, Ext. 4320
Email: or Michael Burtch
Phone: 705 942 6009
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Parliament e-petition and successful media conference

Parliament of Canada e-petition ready for signatures

Parliament of Canada e-petition is now posted on the Parliament of Canada website.  We ask you to pass the link below to any people you think would like to sign it.  Please click on the llink and sign it right away.  We have 120 days to collect signatures.

Petition to the Minister of Transport on the Parliament of Canada website

 Media Conference Very Successful

 Thank you to all those who attended the media conference to voice the horrible impacts they are experiencing since the passenger train ended over a year ago.  And a huge thank you to all of the reporters who attended and had lots of good questions.  Here is the media coverage so far :  (It was also on CBC radio and KISS 100.5 FM)

 ·         Going Off the Rails: Feds Need to Get Back on Track By Steffanie Petroni   Northern Hoot on August 16, 2016

 ·         Couple describes gruelling trek to get to camp (3 photos) -  Darren Taylor

 ·         CTV Northern Ontario: Soo to Hearst rail service  Aug 15, 2016   by Jordan Allard

 ·         Passenger train frustration voiced in gathering  Monday, August 15, 2016  Sault Star by Charlie Pinkerton

·         Train boosters in North frustrated  In Sudbury Stary Tuesday, August 16, 2016 by Charlie Pinkerton

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Parliament of Canada e-petition ready for signatures

Parliament of Canada e-petition is now posted on the Parliament of Canada website.  We ask you to pass the link below to any people you think would like to sign it. 

Please click on the link and sign it right away.  We have 120 days to collect signatures.

Petition to the Minister of Transport on the Parliament of Canada website

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Latest Media Coverage and Painted Land on TVO Aug 3 9 pm

Latest media coverage:

 ·         NEORN slams federal government over lack of funding for the Algoma Central passenger train   Taylor Ablett — July 27, 2016

·         Province receives an earful | North Bay Nugget

 ·         Concern about the north not being treated fairly  by bob.coles on July 27, 2016, 08:07am. EDT

 ·         Federal Government Unwilling to Invest in Passenger Rail Service in Northern Ontario (July 27th)

·         Algoma Passenger Train Situation (July 20th)

·         Timmins Doing its Part for Passenger Rail Restoration (July 5th)

The film Painted Land: In Search of the Group of Seven will be shown on TVO on Wed. Aug. 3rd at 9:00 PM. 

This film about the recently discovered Group of Seven painting sites should remind Transport Canada how important it is to restore our passenger service in this remote area where tourists want to visit lodges, go on canoe trips and hiking trips in the locations where the iconic Canadian painters evolved into the Group of Seven. Our region needs this cultural, place-based tourism as an economic diversifier. The 2.2 million that Transport Canada paid per year brought 48 million in economic benefits to Algoma!!!!

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Latest media coverage

Nouvelle embuche pour le train de passagers Algoma Central - Isaac Gauthier|

Letter to the editor, Trudeau Government Shows Incompetence with ACR Train - Chad Beharriell

Sheehan under pressure as train's future remains unclear: History seems to be repeating itself as Transport Canada, now being run by the Liberal government, is denying the same subsidy the Conservatives did --by: Kenneth Armstrong  July 22, 2016

Transport Canada pulls plug on passenger rail subsidy  By: Ian Ross  Northern Ontario Business July 22, 2016


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Latest media coverage

Municipality of Wawa Continues Support for Immediate Resumption of Algoma Passenger Train Services | By Brenda Stockton-Grundt - July 21, 2016

Fed train aid goes off the rails | By Brian Kelly, Sault Star  Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Sault-to-Hearst passenger rail doesn't qualify for Transport Canada funding, says minister.

The file has been shifted to the Ministry of Indigenous and Northern Affairs : by Darren Taylor July 20, 2016

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Latest media coverage

 CTV Northern Ontario: Talking Transportation | CTV Northern Ontario News

 Rail line still needs action: MILLS By Tom Mills, Sault Star  Saturday, July 16, 2016

It's been one year since the passenger train shut down, we asked these people what they thought -

 Local issue taken on by totally non-local band -

 Radio Canada: "Meeting scheduled with CN"

  Muskoka Region: "Have your say on passenger rail returning to the north"

  Sudbury Star: "Groups push for rail in transport study"    

North Bay Nugget: "Groups push for rail in transport study"

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Email Minister Marc Garneau; attend Ministry of Transportation of Ontario Consultation

1.     Email Minister Marc Garneau to have passenger service restored between Sault Ste. Marie and Hearst NOW.

Here is a suggested draft email message that you may want to send. Simply copy and paste it into an email message. Feel free to add your own comments about how the lack of service for the past year has impacted you. 

Please copy the email to:

Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs

MP Terry

MP Carol Hughes

and your own MP if you are living in another constituency.

 Suggested message:

 Dear Minister Marc Garneau (

Mid July marks one year since the Algoma passenger trains stopped running.  The Algoma Passenger Train Working Group has maintained its focus and has come up with a proposal that could see service flourish.   However, Transport Canada has not approved the use of the money set aside for this purpose in Budget 2015.

 The current proposal would see the passenger service run as a not for profit venture led by the Missanabie Cree First Nation with a Board of Directors representing the First Nations, municipalities and socio-economic stakeholders of the Algoma passenger train.  They have secured expert mentors with experience running passenger lines. The new Mask-wa Ootaban (Bear Train) will be more cost efficient while creating more employment and tax revenue. 

 The positive economic arguments became evident from a 2015 study undertaken by BDO Canada that conservatively estimates how the train creates direct and indirect economic activity in the range of 28 to 38 million dollars a year for the region’s severely challenged economy.  On top of that, the service supports 170-220 jobs, while generating those tax dollars that more than replaced the original yearly subsidy which was cut by the previous government thereby creating the whole problem in the first place.  Consider the cost of safety for people who must get into the remote areas that were serviced by passenger rail. Without the train, some residents from rail line communities--property owners, and individuals who make their living along the line---have been forced to rely on private industrial bush roads and abandoned logging roads that are not maintained for public use or even policed. Most property owners  have been left with no access to their land at all.  Some have tried to hike many miles through the bush and climb very steep hills to try to access their places. Many of these people are elderly or very young and could experience serious injuries while attempting these long, grueling and very unsafe hikes over miles of bush.

 This is a very short summary of some of the compelling reasons to free up the money that had already been set aside and get passenger services rolling.  Will the federal government honour the commitment of money for the Algoma passenger train from budget 2015?  Will you as Minister of Transportation do the right thing and bring passenger rail back between Sault Ste. Marie and Hearst  now?

 (Feel free to add your own comment as to how the absence of the train has affected you.)

 Yours truly



Cc  Hon Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs

Terry Sheehan, MP for Sault Ste. Marie

Carol Hughes, MP Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing

2.     Ministry of Transportation of Ontario Consultation: Intercommunity Bus Modernization: Connecting Ontario Communities August 3. Click on the link below to register. It is free.

Please join the Ontario Ministry of Transportation’s engagement sessions on intercommunity bus modernization. CAPT and NEORN members will be attending to express our position that passenger trains should be the primary form of intercommunity passenger service with buses as short feeder lines to the rail lines.  We want to see passenger train service restored on the existing Northern Ontario rail lines.

 MTO’s engagement sessions aim to facilitate discussion on choices for intercommunity passenger travel.

 Engagement consultations will take place during July and August in the following communities:

Owen Sound: July 12th, 2016 1:00pm - 4:00pm, Bayshore Community Centre, Shore Room 2, map

Orillia: July 13th, 2016 9:00am - 12:00pm, West Orillia Sports Complex,Tournament Room, map

Kenora: July 19th, 2016 1:00pm - 4:00pm, Clarion Inn, Rosewood Terrace, map

Thunder Bay: July 21st, 2016 9:00am - 12:00pm, Italian Cultural Centre, Galileo Room, map

North Bay: July 26th, 2016 1:00pm - 4:00pm, Nipissing University, 100 College Drive, Small Cafeteria, map

Sudbury: July 28th, 2016 9:00am - 12:00pm, United Steelworker’s Hall & Conference Centre, Second Hall, map

Sault Ste. Marie: August 3rd, 2016 9:00am - 12:00pm, John Rhodes Community Centre, Meeting Room 2, map

Timmins: August 4th, 2016 9:00am - 12:00pm, Ramada Timmins, Salon A, map

Niagara Falls: August 10th, 2016 9:00am - 12:00pm, Gale Centre Arena, Memorial Community Room, map

Toronto: August 11th, 2016 1:00pm - 4:00pm, Ryerson University, International Living & Learning Centre, International Room, map

London: August 16th, 2016 1:00pm - 4:00pm, Fanshawe College, 1001 Fanshawe College Blvd, Classroom: M3048, map

Sarnia: August 17th, 2016 9:00am - 12:00pm, Clearwater Community Centre, Lower Hall, map

Kingston: August 18th, 2016 9:00am - 12:00pm, City Hall, Memorial Hall, map


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