The rail line to Churchill is no closer to being repaired, reopened or sold by OmniTrax than it was this time last year.
A consortium of Manitoba First Nations and the iChurchill group had announced earlier this month that they had entered into an agreement with the owner to acquire the port and rail line. The release, which came from Peguis First Nation, said that the deal would be concluded in June, while a request for proposals to fix the line would be out in the days following their release.
iChurchill officially announced yesterday that they have officially pulled their offer, and now claim that the federal government never took their bid seriously and were “unwilling to engage in meaningful dialogue”.
Louis Dufresne, the CEO of iChurchill, said that when the group met with the government’s negotiator he made “made it clear that the government is willing to deal only with one specific company, a Toronto-based financial firm”. He added that the Government of Canada was willing to make a financial contribution to repairing the railway, but that “such a contribution is only available to the financial firm at this time”.
iChurchill, through a news release, went on to say that they had signed a letter of intent with OmniTrax back in March, and that the Denver-based company had notified the government that they had come to terms with a perspective buyer. OmniTrax was not mentioned by name in the Peguis First Nation press release which came out May 3rd, though it was mentioned this time.
Dufresne said that once OmniTrax told the government negotiator, Wayne Wouters, about the signed letter, they were told that the government was “pressing ahead with another firm” and that he (Wouters) indicated to OmniTrax that he had no interest in meeting with the iChurchill group.
The rail line, which serves as the only landline to Churchill, has been out of service since May 2017 after sections were washed out due to flooding.