CHURCHILL, Man. – The federal government says it will help residents of Churchill, Man., offset the higher prices for gasoline they’ve been paying since the northern Manitoba community lost its rail link.
Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr announced Friday that $132,870 from the Churchill and Region Economic Development Fund will allow a fuel supplier to restore prices to where they were when the rail line was washed out last year.
The $7.3 million fund is administered by Community Futures Manitoba for Western Economic Diversification Canada.
A news release from Western Economic Diversification says the funding will help address the increased cost of shipping, storing and distributing gasoline to the community.
The community on Hudson Bay is a well-known destination for polar bear watching, but severe flooding damaged the rail line in May and railway owner Omnitrax has said it can’t afford to make the repairs.
The track was Churchill’s only land link, and a litre of gas cost more than two dollars when Carr visited Churchill at the start of December.
“The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring the economic and social well-being of the residents of Churchill. This funding will provide much needed support to Churchill residents and businesses during this difficult time,” Carr said in the statement.
Ottawa announced millions of dollars in economic diversification and research money back in December to help Churchill, which has faced higher shipping costs and a drop in tourism since the rail line stopped running.
The federal government has filed a lawsuit against Omnitrax and is trying to help transfer ownership of the rail line to a consortium of northern Manitoba communities.
Churchill mayor Mike Spence and council said last week that planning is underway to make a business case for transferring the rail line, tank farm and grain terminal to a new ownership group.
“We continue to work towards a spring repair of the rail line to allow for a successful 2018 shipping season,” said the statement on the town’s website.