Blockage of CN Rail lines hurting Sask. economy
The Municipalities of Saskatchewan say protests blocking CN Rail lines around the country are having a negative effect on Saskatchewan’s economy.
“I’m expecting even today it's starting to effect communities. And every day that it goes by it will be that much worse," Municipalities of Saskatchewan President Gordon Barnhart said.
Barnhart says many communities depend on getting their product to market, and are already suffering from the economic downturns in oil, coal, and potash. He said importing is also very important and is hindered by the protests as well, and many spring infrastructure projects also rely on importing materials.
The Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan (APAS) say there is a backlog happening in Melville. Trains stuck in the east that are meant to come west mean product on the Prairies has to wait in line. Most of the trains stuck waiting are full of grain, so they can't be turned off.
“Traffic is backed up all the way to Melville. So from Prince Rubert all the way back to Melville, Saskatchewan. So it's a huge backlog, it's going to take a long time to untangle,” Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan President Todd Lewis said.
Lewis says there are over 40 boats on the coast of British Columbia waiting to ship grain to other countries.
“They might not come back again as a Canadian customer, so it is a big issue long term as well," Lewis said.
“People have the right to protest but when it comes to the point of actually stopping the rail and the economy, then it becomes very serious for all of our communities," Barnhart said.
Lewis says the months of February and March are very important for farmers to sell their grain, in order to get cash flows to help during spring seeding.
"The longer these blockades last, the more significant the impacts to our economy will be,” Minister of Trade and Export Development Jeremy Harrison said in a statement.
Both the Provincial Government and the Municipalities of Saskatchewan are urging the Federal Government to get involved, and find a way to get the rail lines open again.
Lewis says even when the rail lines open again, it will take weeks to get things back to normal.