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Tbnewswatch Local News
Saturday May 30 2015
2:27 AM EDT
2014-07-07 at 14:18

Answers unlikely file photograph
By Jamie Smith,

THUNDER BAY -- CN says it will now take days or even weeks before negotiations on the James street swing bridge can resume.

After a meeting last Thursday, where the company gave a proposal to the two communities to get the bridge re-opened to vehicle traffic, CN officials said there would be an answer to a counter-proposal Monday afternoon.

But on Friday Fort William First Nation raised questions over the legality of at least two road allowances used by CN in the community. Chief Georjann Morriseau said a 1906 agreement between the community and Grand Trunk Railway didn't include certain areas the company is using.

"CN is currently trespassing on at least two road allowances that were exempted from the original appropriation in 1906,” Morriseau said in a release.

On Monday morning the company said it would now need more time to respond to the counter-proposal.

"At the last meeting, Fort William First Nation raised questions on CN's title for the first time in over 100 years. While CN is confident in the quality of its title, these complex questions will require answers before CN can respond to the City's latest proposal," company spokeswoman Lindsay Fedchyshyn said in an email.

Mayor Keith Hobbs said he was surprised by Fort William First Nation's comments but it was that community's choice. CN said negotiations won't resume until the land issue is settled, which could take days or weeks. 

"If that's the case, its what it is," Hobbs said. "People are banging heads right now and that happens in negotiations."

Lawyers have assured him the city is on solid legal ground that the company is responsible for the maintenance of the bridge.

"I don't want to slam CN at this point, I think I've done that enough. I think they're being irresponsible here. Both communities are suffering as a result of this and them not doing their due diligence the way they should be but that's for the courts maybe to decide."

Hobbs is hoping to keep the dispute out of the courtroom but city council will have a legal discussion on the issue July 21.

While the proposal and counter-proposal were not made public, Hobbs said the company's offer did include cost-sharing with the city, which he's not happy about.

"I don't want the taxpayers to foot the bill for this bridge. That's not going to happen from my point of view," he said.

The bridge has been closed since Oct. 29, 2013.



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Murphy says:
Halt the work?? Seriously delay another project to only to have to invest and in it again. Then deal with the complaints of that, plus pay maintenance costs to keep it graded and to keep the dust down.

Let CN take their time, the city and or FWFN should build their own. Or CN put a toll on it b/c you know if someone else builds it that will probably happen.
Drive the extra 5 grateful you don't live in S.Ont and have to really commute ...
MTO should reduce the speed to the neebing, park a cop to enforce it until ppl get it. Put a merge lane onto 61 from Chippewa road...the trucks already use that 3m shoulder make it a merge you are already yielding.
Accidents happen for a reason they are preventable. Collisions are not. We have zero collisions in that area only accidents due to poor judgement, improper driving, inattentive and impatient drivers disgruntled about the bridge. Focus less on that and more on a bigger cause.
I drive it everyday, it's life.
7/9/2014 10:31:06 AM
sawmillsteve says:
glass half full....your knowledge is very weak and the basis of your statements are not accurate one bit. Learn to spell sawmill and check out the other large CN customers next to the sawmill. Think before you respond.
7/8/2014 7:43:27 PM
Cletus Van Damme says:
I guess the gravy train ain't runnin' across that ole bridge anymore!
7/8/2014 6:33:52 PM
udecide says:
TBNEWS....can you not find some real news. EMBARRASSING
7/8/2014 3:10:12 PM
moi says:
And prey tell udecide, *what* would you consider "some real news"? (for those of us living/breathing/working in NWO)
The flood situation out in Manitoba?...the search for the missing grandparents/grandson out in Alberta? 'bout Rob Ford's first news conference and announcement since leaving rehab? DO share with the rest of us in NWO udecide, what exactly you put in the category or "REAL!NEWS!"....otherwise your comment is just--lame.
7/8/2014 6:43:25 PM
Bob Roberts says:
Lawyers at all levels City local, Federal,FNFW and CN are all doing backflips. Billable hours Ka Ching. This should occupy lots of time, and have huge economic spin off benefits from all the "paper work" and court filings and lawsuits. Winner Winner Winner, Not a single loser now. Open up pandora's box its now gone Federal. Job creation after the Fed's spring for a new bridge, maybe brand new spanking "tourist" bridge like Nipigon with a Toll charge. Perfect Long term Solution, as droves of tourists flock to Chippewa and Mt Mckay.
7/8/2014 1:27:23 PM
wisewoman says:
The issue still is the original contract. Any other issue is separate. CN is just stalling after this length of time it seems clear that they are just waiting for everyone to tire of the situation and offer to help pay for the bridge. It also seems the FWFN used this as a measure to try and get the CN to finally do something as they are not parties to the contract The money CN is spending on lawyers could have done a lot towards the solution. FWFN is not a party to this issue and profitability has nothing to do with legal responsibilities.
7/8/2014 1:20:53 PM
Papercut says:
I say the city should HALT the work on Golf Links Road....River Terrace can drive on sone gravel for a while, and divert that money to the bridge.....

7/8/2014 12:15:26 PM
terwilliger says:
This bridge will never be open to vehicle traffic again, get use to going around.

CN is not going to spend nickle one on this unless it is court ordered, get use to going around.

As long as the trains can cross CN is happy, get use to going around.

Now that FWFN has pissed CN off any resolution is going to take forever, get use to going around.

Bottom line, you guessed it. Get use to going around.
7/8/2014 9:10:19 AM
snotzky says:
Hobbs is funny. First after the fire, he promised 80million dollars to make a new "Unity Bridge". Now he says, he doesn't want the taxpayers to foot the bill for it. What a difference an election year makes. I don't blame Hobbs for wanting to keep it out of the courts. The last time he was involved in a court case,(his investigation against Central Auto Parts), it cost the taxpayers $1.6 million dollars in a lawsuit. Way to go Hobbs!
7/8/2014 8:59:30 AM
moose243 says:
all of this because you dont want to drive the extra 5 minutes..give it a rest already
7/8/2014 8:40:37 AM
passlake says:
That "trespassing" thing worked out real well, didn't it..
7/8/2014 12:13:35 AM
cm punk says:
What does Hobbs care.
Raise the taxes to pay for the knee deep pile of legal fees that continue to rise
7/7/2014 8:43:39 PM
Killer says:
Highway 61 is perfectly fine to get out to FWFN. I know what some are going to say, someone is going to get killed but that can happen at anytime on that stretch of highway.. Maybe we should be fighting for a four lane highway right to the boarder then it would be a lot safer.
7/7/2014 8:12:38 PM
smartguy83 says:
Let's not forget that if someone does get killed it is likely out of due diligence for those merging from the FN. Drivers with a license should be able to avoid merging into oncoming traffic.

I have entered, exited and driven by this area 75-100 times since the CN bridge has close at various times during the day. Not once was there enough traffic to warrant any changes to the intersection.

Be responsible and no one will get killed. Simple as that...
7/8/2014 12:18:34 PM
Papercut says:
Hey Killer:

Obviously you have no concept of reality.

I dare you to drive through the "gauntlet" of the intersection of Hwy 61 and chippewa Road during morning and evening "RUSH" hours....try it for oh...a year or so...then get back to me with your review....LOL.

7/8/2014 1:08:25 PM
Kam River says:
Now is the time for Mayor Hobbs and the city to stop wasting City money on this fight.
It is between CN and Fort William First Nation and if necessary they can take it to court.
The city of Thunder Bay has spent too much money on this, hiring consultants and our valuable staff time that could be better served working on all the city problems.
7/7/2014 7:26:52 PM
conker2012 says:

Instead of making dumb comments perhaps you should do some research.

Here is a Zoning map 10K which shows that both sides of the river are part of the city and in fact the city limits are at City Road.
7/8/2014 11:24:28 AM
cob says:
"I don't want to slam CN at this point, I think I've done that enough. I think they're being irresponsible here."

Typical Hobbs' double-speak. I don't want to slam them anymore, but I will anyway by calling them irresponsible.

Both communities are suffering as a result of this and them not doing their due diligence the way they should be but that's for the courts maybe to decide."

I am sure FWFN is suffering some but I really don't think the city is. Just more posturing by Hobbs.

I think the bridge is a done deal; i.e. a dead issue for CN. They are quite prepared to go to court and will delay that process and tie everyone up in court. I, for one, don't want my tax dollars spent beating this dead horse issue. The city is wasting enough money on losing court cases as it is.
7/7/2014 7:15:27 PM
eventscentre says:
It's your move Chief Morriseau!
7/7/2014 7:02:35 PM
sickandtired says:
This is what happens when you shoot yourself in the foot ................ Everyone is lawyer-ing up!
7/7/2014 6:47:54 PM
eventscentre says:
To CN: Don't let our mayor or anyone else bully you into spending millions of dollars that you don't have to. Make everyone take the route that is already in place! Stick to your guns!
7/7/2014 6:14:20 PM
tic says:
Haha to the chief it serves you right. Your scare tactics are only going to delay this. Also don't know why Hobbs keeps saying two communities are suffering I have no problem and have no issue driving around the longer way. I am not suffering heck I say tear the bridge down already it is way to old and almost done for anyways. Also let's focus on why this happened in the first place, catch the idiots who lit it up and bring them to justice. Someone out there knows who did it.
7/7/2014 5:11:00 PM
moi says:
I'm guessing that CN will tell chief morriseau to either "take it or leave it", that there will be only one offer/proposal on the table,that being the proposal that was made.
This bridge is small potatoes to CN, they answer to no-one, not some little city mayor and council,not some chief of a reserve in Ontario,and not the province. CN only answers to it's shareholders and the federal gov't.
Chief morriseau apparently thought she could come across as a big fish in a little pond,and it backfired. least we know WHO to blame,if the taxpayer winds-up on the hook for a new bridge...and it aint CN who we'll blame. CN called morriseau's bluff,and now, her words and actions will come back to bite her.No sympathy, too bad so sad.
7/7/2014 4:55:46 PM
unknowncronik says:
...if anything, we could at least make it a "one way" so at minimum would save 1/2 the time to drive over & would also solve the response time issue somewhat...
7/7/2014 4:46:32 PM
The Beaver..... says:
CN is North Americas leading class one Railroad it has consistently produced the best operating ratio. It is nothing short of being the envy of the Railroad industry in North America, and with his Chicago and Memphis Yard it has the fastest commodity movement of them all. You can be sure that our little Bridge, and what it serves is off no great consequence.
7/7/2014 4:24:28 PM
humnchuck says:
Absolutely. It's a bridge on a spur line that serves 3 or 4 bulk goods clients.

In the past few years, CN has provided some quite positive returns on share prices, etc. and are considered a leader in rail transport. Some would argue that under Claude Mongeau, etc. there has been a more significant focus on profit margins over past service levels. All the more reason then that a bridge and line with poor financial returns would be abandoned, sold off, etc. at the first opportunity. CN, to this point, appears to not be doing so.
7/7/2014 6:42:18 PM
Shane Caker says:
You can also be sure that they have contracts with the customers on the other side of the bridge. Would you build a multi million dollar sawmill or grain elevator without a valid and guaranteed way of getting your product to and from your property? Didn't think so.
7/7/2014 6:42:49 PM
tsb says:
Go to Marina Park.

Want to know which of the three lines that separates that park is owned by CN?

Hint: It's the one overgrown with weeds.
7/7/2014 9:24:00 PM
S Duncan says:
Hint: that track doesn't go anywhere now since the Kinghorn line was pulled up.

That section of track is just a dead end that at best can be used for some employee training, car storage, or to put a train into a hole if desperate enough to need that track (not likely ever to be needed)

In fact it makes a very bad hole because of the roadway crossings that cannot be blocked.

Having some weeds on it is not really an issue. If you want to find fault with CN's track maintenance you can find it, but that's not the spot you should focus on.
7/8/2014 2:00:14 PM
Bob Roberts says:
The Lawyers are going to be quite happy, more billable hrs. FWFN is not doing themselves any favours trying to play a low trump card so late into the game. Now it will become a Federal matter, no need for the City of Thunder Bay to get involved anymore. Problem solved for the City and Mayor.
7/7/2014 4:08:01 PM
The Beaver..... says:
"At the last meeting, Fort William First Nation raised questions on CN's title for the first time in over 100 years. While CN is confident in the quality of its title, these complex questions will require answers before CN can respond to the City's latest proposal," company spokeswoman Lindsay Fedchyshyn said in an email.
That should read respond to the FWFN and NOT THE CITY
7/7/2014 3:58:22 PM
wendel17 says:
When referring to tax payers do you assume that FN people pay no taxes? Do you think that by removing the bridge it will only affect those merchants in Fort William? There are a number of (taxpayers) who count on those businesses for employment. This is not only a Fort William issue, it is an issue for all users, business and recreational.
7/7/2014 3:57:25 PM
smartguy83 says:
I would be on that to me a total Myth. If the FN people came to the city to grocery shop, shop for clothing, etc before, then the majority will still come. Taking the highway adds no more than 15 minutes to your travel. It is really a non issue and should be put to rest until we see a conclusion here.
7/8/2014 12:12:55 PM
sunnyside says:
I purchased property where my driveway access is on someone elses property. It has been there for over 70 years. My lawyer stated that once it has been use for that many years the owner cannot take away my access. You would think that would apply in this case also.
7/7/2014 3:38:40 PM
Papercut says:
Obviously, the offer was less than satisfactory to at least one of the affected parties.....otherwise this would never have been said.
7/7/2014 3:03:04 PM
ibrando says:
Call FWFN bluff! Time to cut your losses CN and walk away. Sell the structure for scrap.
7/7/2014 2:53:29 PM
alexa says:
Often times "negotiations" can take a bad turn when one side starts throwing ultimatums and accusations like "trespassing" around. Looks like these kinds of tactics might have an adverse effect on any potential negotiations with CN.
7/7/2014 2:43:24 PM
westfort resident says:
Somebody should give Chief Morriseau a tissue to wipe the egg off of her face!
7/7/2014 7:15:32 PM
Dan dan says:
Let CN rebuild the bridge at their cost only if it makes financial sense for them to do so. I do not want a single dime of taxpayer money to be spent on this!
7/7/2014 2:31:07 PM
Pierre says:
Awesome!!! Just what CN wanted - more time to not deal with the issue. Good move Chief Morriseau.
7/7/2014 2:26:08 PM
kitch69 says:
Yep I have been waiting for the FWFN to screw up by doing or saying something like this...
7/7/2014 8:00:24 PM
glass half full says:
Tear the bridge down.

I am sure CN does not make a lot of money from this bridge these days.

7/7/2014 2:25:19 PM
humnchuck says:
And you are "sure" based on which evidence?

Unless you have access to CN's financial analysis, I am sure that you're speculating without evidence.

7/7/2014 3:43:40 PM
glass half full says:
I don't think a person has to be a rocket scientist to see that there is only one major contract on that tiny little line. which is a saw mill.

Do you think that this tiny contract in the big picture is worth spending millions to rebuild a bridge?

Pay back on investment is simply not there.

So my good friend I do not need to see financials to come to this conclusion.

7/7/2014 4:13:20 PM
BlueJay12 says:
Actually rocket scientist your wrong, along with the saw mill they also service 2 grain elevators with grain cars which are busier than ever dumping about 120 cars a day! They DO need this bridge and so does CP rail who also uses it to service the elevators with their grain cars as well...get some facts before your make comments!
7/7/2014 4:36:44 PM
glass half full says:
too funny.. ok 3 customers ... that's a great business plan considering they can move more freight on other rail lines. CN is in the rail business not the business of building bridges for traffic.

hypothetically new bridge 50 million dollars? ( I would suspect more ) but lets use that number. How many cars would have to be dumped or shipped for a pay back on the investment?

and your 120 cars per day is not a typical day 365 days per year.

Again I say not good business not a good investment and if FWFN wants to bully and use a 100 year old deal tear it down. use the other elevators in town that are not operating at full capacity. The mill would just have to ship by road.

The community has road access which is more than numerous other FN communities in Ontario, MTO should rework hwy 61 to make it safer.

7/7/2014 6:11:09 PM
electrical_tesla says:
50 million is a fair estimate but 100 mil for the entire project is more likely. Engineering studies will need to be done to verify the structural integrity of the steel in the bridge. Those take time and a good chunk of money. After the bridge is assessed CN will then do a cost analysis to see what the options are. It will likely be that a new bridge will have to be constructed in which case the old one will need to be demolished. The new bridge will have to be re-engineered which means traffic and load studies will need to be performed. All of this will probably take about 6-18 months depending on negotiations. Since three parties are involved I would think it will take longer due to bureaucracy.

Even though they do have clients on the other side of the bridge it would take far too long to see an ROI. There is still road access and its cheaper to cut a deal with road transport than a new bridge. Besides in grand scheme of things that bridge is small potatoes in CN's eyes.
7/8/2014 12:00:39 PM
smartguy83 says:
Seeing as the Nipigon Bridge will be costing $100M I'd bet that $50M is a little high.

Please also remember the bridge was built 100+ yrs ago to service the elevators etc. If it was worth it then, it may very well be worth it today. Without the financials you are in no position to make conclusions. Whether the elevators were busier then or now may still not be enough to support your hearsay.
7/8/2014 12:10:14 PM
donnybrook says:
half glass said "in the big picture". CN could cut off this route entirely and not even wince. Remember Via Rail? Cancelling that was a terrible blow to CN, for about 12 minutes. We live in hick town, that's the big picture.
7/7/2014 6:15:38 PM
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