Federal minister to listen to CN payment woes

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Warwick Township’s mayor is hoping the federal transportation minister may help solve a financial standoff with CN Rail.

Todd Case and his counterpart in Plympton-Wyoming, Gary Atkinson, have been pushing CN Rail to settle up outstanding charges under the Drainage Act.
The Drainage Act is one of the oldest pieces of legislation in Ontario, passed in 1859. It prescribes a formula to assign costs to those who receive the most benefit from the new infrastructure.

Until 2021, CN Rail had paid any costs assessed under the act. But in 2022, CN Rail – which is now owned by multiple US investors – refused to pay any charges saying it is a federally regulated business and not subject to the provincial legislation.

That’s left both Warwick and Plympton-Wyoming in the hole. Warwick is owed $160,000 and Plympton-Wyoming has billed CN $80,000 which is still outstanding.

They’re not alone.

The Association of Municipalities of Ontario says the company owes about $1.5 million for new drain construction and maintenance across the province. AMO added about $2.7 million worth of drainage projects are in limbo because of CN’s refusal to pay.

Case and Atkinson have met with CN Rail officials, but the company refused to bend even though both the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs and AMO have backed the call for CN to pay up.

Case says he’s secured a meeting with the federal Transportation Minister, Omar Alghabra, to talk about the problem. He told Warwick council Monday a date has not been set yet for the meeting.