Tbnewswatch Local News
Thursday July 2 2015
4:08 AM EDT
2014-07-15 at 17:12

Final offer

By Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com

THUNDER BAY -- CN has given the city a final offer with a one-week deadline over the James Street swing bridge.

The company sent letters to mayor Keith Hobbs and Fort William First Nation Chief Georjann Morriseau giving the communities two choices to open the bridge, which has been closed to vehicle traffic since a fire last October, back up to the public.

The company would pay 50 per cent, up to a maximum of $1.5 million, to have vehicles share the rail deck if the city discharges the company from a 1906 agreement to maintain the bridge in perpetuity.

Costs would go toward improvements on the deck so both rail and vehicles could travel over it, along with signals.

The other option is to have the company cover all of the costs and head to court over the more than hundred-year-old agreement between the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway and the town of Fort William.

"If the city is confident in its position, they should be comfortable with that option," the letter states.

CN vice-president of law Olivier Chouc said while the rail part of the bridge is sound, the vehicle sections are 30 years past their useful life span.

"It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that they're no longer in a condition to accommodate traffic," he said.

In the letter CN said the city continues to suggest the vehicle roadway is sound despite engineering reports.

"The only way to prevent potentially fatal incidents is to close the bridge to vehicular traffic," it states. "Doing anything else would be completely irresponsible."

The letter also states that the city has ignored basic facts and has threatened the company that it will attack CN's reputation "if it did not obtain satisfaction."

Hobbs said he can't comment much until city council discusses the issue Monday night but he's not impressed. That meeting is the reason CN has given the city until Tuesday.

"We believe it's a simple offer but a final offer," Chouc said.

It's time for all of council to have their say Hobbs said. 

"They're (CN) the ones that started this mess," he said.   

As for the cause of the fire, Chouc said the company knows as much as the public does.

"We have no idea what caused the fire," he said. "I don't think we'll ever know."

In CN's letter to Morriseau it states that Fort William First Nation was paid more than $242,000 in compensation for lands in 1906. Even if it wasn't compensated, CN said the issue needs to be taken up with the federal government.

The company also made an agreement with the community in 1999 to transfer lands to FWFN for development. CN said that made clear that the community released any claims it had against the company.

The deadline is July 22 at 5 p.m.

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anvil of crom says:
CN is backing the City into a corner and dangling a carrot.
IF the City bites we are in trouble! because then the City will be not only on the hook for maintenance forever, but also the City nows assumes any future Liability.
All future repairs to this rust bucket bridge, and now at the whim of the FWFN as well.
That being said, is that wise? is that what we want as citizens?
The city needs to refuse this offer, period. Its very empty beyond the 1.5 million in "matching funds" which comes with its own 1.5 million price tag.
CN has deep pockets and basically is ready to spend 1.5 million in litigation to fight the City and FWFN.
We are now going to see the gloves come off for some lengthy litigation, the nice play in the sandbox has come to an end.
As to the FWFN, they seem to have played a weak hand , and has no legal leg to stand on if this leaked document can be believed.
7/17/2014 9:43:06 AM
mustachemike says:
Backing the city into a corner may be a bit of an overstatement here. The great Olivier Chouc has elaborately laid out exactly what CN is prepared to do. FWFN has overplayed their hand by going over the heads of the city in stating that CN is 'trespassing'... Another favourite topic of mine... The wind farms comes to mind. When it comes to the shadows created trespassing on the lawns of many citizens in the all encompassing shadow of these gigantic man made monoliths. If only we had the power of the FWFN to back us up in that fight. But alas... The turbines are a comin...
7/18/2014 4:59:49 PM
haboriginal says:
@ mystified, FYI all or most of FWFN makes purchases in the city.
7/16/2014 10:57:21 PM
Cletus Van Damme says:

Last trip for the gravy train.

Wooo! Wooo!
7/16/2014 9:10:47 PM
tsb says:
If CN is allowed to break this perpetual agreement, perhaps that will set a precedent to allow other perpetual agreements to be broken? I certainly hope so!

Condos in Vickers Park, anyone? The Event Centre on top of what is currently Waverly Park? Subdivisions on the LPH property and all along and up to the shore of Boulevard Lake? I can't wait!

If CN can do it, so can Thunder Bay!
7/16/2014 7:38:44 PM
Kam River says:
If this is true "The letter highlights the initial agreement in 1906, which states the ATTACHED roadways only have a 70 year useful life. Seeing as how we are nearly 40 years past that time, I'd say CN did a pretty decent job of maintaining the roadways"
Are we being BS by Hobbs again.
Hobbs should resign today...
7/16/2014 6:48:50 PM
mcse1999 says:
Though they are silenced by a Code of Conduct policy, anyone who works at CN and has been following this story could have pretty much predicted this outcome.
7/16/2014 4:27:32 PM
King Farouk says:
We should put a toll on all the bridges in town. Then we would have lots of bridge repair money!
there are 2 bridges over the curent river, 4 or 5 over the McIntyre, 4 or 5 over the Neebing. A few over McVicar Creek. The Island drive bridge.
We would have enough money in no time! We could build bridges for everyone!!!
7/16/2014 4:01:07 PM
dank says:
The proposed event center is the real convenience and no expense is spared on it.
7/16/2014 3:12:04 PM
pkdtbay says:
This is a difficult discussion item as the bridge is way past its life span so I agree taht CN fulfilled their obligation.
An idea is definately a new bridge however make it a toll bridge with the monies raised to be earmarked for maintenance. A loonie or twonie each way would raise the capital required. Afterall this bridge is ONLY a convinience.
7/16/2014 12:54:04 PM
conker2012 says:
"Perpetuity" means from now until forever, access is forever, and the bridge will be maintained forever. CN has to keep the bridge in a state that it will last forever. IF the roadways are 30 years over their life span then they have admitted that they did not maintain this structure as to grand the city perpetual access the bridge. If you maintain all aspects of a man made structure it will last forever. This is simple engineering concept that replacing worn components is always part of maintenance.

On the other hand the damage caused by the fire is not part of any maintenance and CN does not have to repair damage caused by actions of others as they are self insured. In my opinion CN is not obligated to repair the fire damage, but must maintain the rest of the bridge so that road access is protected. The city should offer to repair the fire damage roadway potion of the bridge, but CN should be forced to basically overhaul the rest of the structure so that is will last perpetually.
7/16/2014 1:48:56 PM
donnybrook says:
Bet most of the Hobbs bashing here is by non-voters (meaning they can vote but are too lazy to get off the couch and actually do it).

7/16/2014 12:12:41 PM
cazam says:
Checkmate CN. They are proving to be the more savvy of the stakeholders which is easy considering the amateur opposition they face.

7/16/2014 11:53:17 AM
keiths31 says:
The original contract states that GTR (now CN) will repair and upkeep the bridge in perpetuity. Nothing about rebuilding. Okay. But the bridge is damaged and is need of repair. Which is covered by the agreement. For everyone who is bashing the city and FWFN for their current actions, CN has gone almost 10 months without completing any repairs to the bridge as per the original agreement. I don't blame the city and FWFN for trying to push CN more. And this isn't just a FWFN issue. There is a subdivision of the city located on the other side of the bridge along Mountain Road where citizens of our city live.

Imagine for a moment that Current River was forced to use Hodder/11-17 to get to the rest of the city (before the clover leaf was built) because the Black Bay bridge and the Cumberland Street Bridge were out of commission. The whole city would be up in arms and wouldn't stand for it. But yet because the majority of traffic is going to the reserve...
7/16/2014 11:37:13 AM
Det John Kimble says:
Your example in your last paragraph is highly in error my good man.
The black bay bridge and the cumberland street bridge is owned fully by the City of Thunder Bay.
As such in a scenario as you put forth, there would be no confusion AT ALL as to who owns, fixes and is liable for the bridges you mention.
Its not too hard! just THINK about it.
In the case of the "james street swing bridge", ownership, and upkeep obligations and the liability aspects is what is highly in doubt.
Finally as to you last comment please try not to turn this into a "us versus them" issue!
That is plainly in bad taste.! and everyone on both sides of the river are clearly losing, good honest people through, and through no doubt!
7/16/2014 11:17:54 PM
The Beaver..... says:
The letter also states that the city has ignored basic facts and has threatened the company that it will attack CN's reputation "if it did not obtain satisfaction."
Do that and you will have another Law suit on your hands. The person that made that statement at the meeting should either be immediately dismissed or for sure should not ever be voted back in comes Election time
7/16/2014 11:23:07 AM
BlueJay12 says:
Oh ya, who is the genius who decided to repave a small section of the only road going in and out of the reserve.....then you got the boneheads who decide to go into the left lane and cute back in when they see an opening (GETRDONE)! Took me 50 minutes to get out of there yesterday! No need for the bridge to re-open...no traffic at all!
7/16/2014 11:06:16 AM
The Beaver..... says:
"They're (CN) the ones that started this mess," he said.
Hobbs has been bullying CN on this issue since day one.
7/16/2014 10:58:24 AM
thisismyotheraccount says:
"They're (CN) the ones that started this mess," he said.

No, whoever/whatever started the fire, is what started this mess. Let's not put blame where it isn't due.
7/16/2014 10:41:10 AM
dan dan says:
So, are you suggesting that the bridge was perfectly maintained before buddy set fire to it?
7/16/2014 12:34:44 PM
The Don says:
The city should stick to its guns and insist that cn repair the kam bridge cause what cn proposes is to deck the track on the bridge like a common crossing ie: wood planks or rubber inserts regardless down the road in the future cn will claim its a safety issue to the public due to smaller vehicle tires getting caught in the flangeways and beside it will be single lane traffic ..bridge isnt wide enough for two vehicles..this is another example of a big corporation trying to renege on prior agreements Citizens of T-Bay dont let this happen
7/16/2014 10:25:11 AM
Bob Roberts says:
Gee looks like Mayor Hobbs and the city going to have to Dip into the "Special Reserve Fund" again.
CN lawyers did a nice job of enlightening FWFN and Hobbs with respect to the CN Bridge. Maybe a Toll should be installed until the City can recoup the estimated 1.5 million for repair. Time for a new city government come this falls election. Lets see how fast City Hal land FWFN get back to CN on the latest salvo fired at their heads.
7/16/2014 9:59:16 AM
joey joe joe jr. shabadoo says:
if they put a toll in, I would just go the longer, safer way....like someone mentioned, the bulk of peeps using the bridge go for smokes n gas anyways...
7/16/2014 11:37:58 AM
djs says:
The story of David vs. Goliath...who has the bigger stones? Who has the most financial backing to take this to the courts? Who has the better lawyers? If this deal is accepted, Goliath wins again.
7/16/2014 9:27:48 AM
old vienna says:
Hobbs says: They're (CN) the ones that started this mess.

Every time Hobbs opens his mouth it always turns out to be a mess. This guy never backs up the mess that comes out of his mouth. The taxpayers always have to pay his legal fees for his stupidity and hotheadedness. Glad CN is taking it to this arrogant mayor and city administration. The city of thunder bay if it is stupid to go the legal route will do what it usually does in court and that is lose. Can't wait for October to vote this embarrassment and disgrace of a mayor out of office.

7/16/2014 9:22:03 AM
bttnk says:
Is that all Hobbs has to say?

"They're the ones that started this mess"!

Is that leadership?
7/16/2014 9:15:03 AM
rocketship says:
I guess the fact that CN has failed to properly maintain the public portions of the bridge over the years is somehow our problem I guess.

Either way, by the time the issue is settled, everyone will be so used to using the other route,it won't matter.
7/16/2014 9:00:20 AM
PurpleLeaves says:
The letter highlights the initial agreement in 1906, which states the ATTACHED roadways only have a 70 year useful life. Seeing as how we are nearly 40 years past that time, I'd say CN did a pretty decent job of maintaining the roadways.
7/16/2014 12:37:44 PM
jonthunder says:
Does Canada not fund bridges onto reserves, and if so why not this one? Why would the city pay 1/2 the cost for a bridge it does not own or control and does not need? What liability would the city incur?
7/16/2014 2:38:16 AM
conker2012 says:
The bridge does not connect directly to the reserve. The land on both sides of the river belongs to the city. The boarder for the reserve is the south side of city road. So no it is not a bridge the connects the reserve. It is a bridge within the municipality of Thunder Bay, which is privately owned.

The city should not have to pay a cent for the bridge and CN is calling the city's bluff. Take them to court, what is the worst that will happen. We loose and people have to continue to use a provincially owned an operated highway. We win and CN has to pay the full cost to rebuild or improve the bridge and all our legal costs. The also become liable for the loss of access and all additional costs as a result.

CN Screwed us by closing the kinghorn and it is time to serve them some of their own medicine.
7/16/2014 12:24:55 PM
laurie says:
I will probably get slammed for this comment

What about a toll charge for those who use it ?
7/16/2014 12:11:42 AM
enos012 says:
No I agree. I think both parties should split the cost down the middle and than have a toll booth. I would make it extremley pricy but say 50cents both ways because most are just going for a quick trip for gas and smokes. The toll can be split 3 ways? From CN, the city and first nations. You would have to figure at the very min each party would make $1000 a day.
7/16/2014 11:55:05 AM
Maverick & Goose says:
Well played CN
7/15/2014 11:09:29 PM
Killer says:
The Mayor Keith Hobbs and Chief Georjann Morriseau have really put their foot in there mouth this time and something tells me it's going to court and the city and FWFN don't have a leg to stand on.
7/15/2014 10:28:40 PM
canadian_trucker says:
congrats to CN Rail. you did what many hoped for... maybe Hobbs and Morriseau might think twice before opening their big mouths next time...the threats did them no good now maybe they can suck it up and admit they did wrong
7/15/2014 10:09:58 PM
nvjgu says:
I don't think so CNR, which is short for Canadian National Railroad which by the way they don't like it being called.
7/15/2014 9:39:49 PM
dynamiter says:
Seems like both our mayor and the chief have stepped into it. How can CN have started this mess? They didnt burn down the bridge. There have been complaints about this bridge for a long long time. It would be a good bet that people were being quiet about it because if the engineers, lawyers and politicians had gotten involved before the fire the bridge would have been closed for not being to even the most rudimentary standard. I am sure that the interpretation and scope of an 100 year old agreement will be tinkered with by even the more liberal judiciary.
7/15/2014 9:17:17 PM
Shane Caker says:
Oh oh...
7/15/2014 8:53:06 PM
alexa says:
Sounds like CN is trying to move towards a solution and it may be a step in the right direction........also sounds like CN wasn't impressed with the accusation that they were trespassing...
7/15/2014 8:04:46 PM
unheard says:
7/15/2014 7:44:48 PM
nvjgu says:
Here we goooo
7/15/2014 7:21:37 PM
tudor says:
now Hobbs cannot comment. That's a switch. So oh wise one. Take CN to court. Make them cover the costs forever. Call their bluff if the city is so convinced about our position. Only, then CN will keep the bridge closed.

So in the game of poker, the city and the chief have just been called and CN is holding four aces. nice bluff but our mayor and his partner.

October 27th is coming soon. Thank goodness.
7/15/2014 7:19:55 PM
mystified says:
I'm glad CN is fighting the bullies. Looks like someone has egg on their faces for thinking they had CN over a barrel.
I hope everyone on both sides of the river remember who not to vote for next time there is an election.
The people of Tbag should kick council to the curb should they vote to spend any taxpayers money on this venture as this bridge crossing only serves those buying smokes and gas not those that support the businesses in the city.
7/15/2014 7:12:27 PM
spazz says:
take even a few minutes to research how rail companies have operated over the years and I think you will find who the "bullies" are. this comment is astoundingly uninformed.
7/16/2014 11:10:40 AM
haboriginal says:
Hi. FYI FWFN supports businesses all over Thunder Bay. I'm also glad to know that we could bully a multi-billion dollar company. PS, Thank you to all Thunder Bay people that support FWFN businesses. PPS. The bridge is no good no more, so get over it, pun intended.
7/16/2014 11:08:10 PM
Dan dan says:
I don't much care about the bridge, but CN is thumbing it's nose at the city. We have a contract in which CN agrees to maintain the bridge in perpetuity. They seem to think that refers only to the existing physical structure.

7/15/2014 7:10:42 PM
sawmillsteve says:
Hobbs your totally out to lunch with this whole bridge fiasco! You say its safe to travel on just
to get votes and the public approval ratings cause its an election year.
Look at the corner CN has put you in now!
And as for FWFN maybe get some legal advice before you try and make CN do something!!
7/15/2014 6:27:35 PM
progress now says:
The bridge was a mess when I learned to drive a thousand years ago. Sounds like a candidate for renew Thunder bay, unless that fund is really renew Waterfront.

7/15/2014 6:20:01 PM
enos012 says:
In the letter CN said the city continues to suggest the vehicle roadway is sound despite engineering reports. "The only way to prevent potentially fatal incidents is to close the bridge to vehicular traffic," it states. "Doing anything else would be completely irresponsible." So you are saying it it sound but should be closed?

As for what caused the fire two teens that cannot be named yet the police have tracked then down. They were said to have filled up a gerry can that night and later reported in at the hospital.
7/15/2014 6:05:13 PM
dank says:
One of our new agencies should send a reporter out to city road right now- Tuesday @ 6pm. The city roads dept has a decided its a good idea to repave the road. With the bridge down, traffic is backed up in both directions for miles. 2 hours to get home to Wesfort from the federal government building on the the reserve. God help someone if a accident occurs because no one is moving. Good case for bridge repair or replacment- I think so!!!
7/15/2014 5:57:33 PM
fastball says:
Fix the roads!
Mr. Mayor, quit spending money on stupid stuff and fix the roads!!!
Hey, wait a minute here - they're fixing MY road and now I'm inconvenienced!!!
They might be using that road for quite a while yet - and maybe it needs to be repaved to meet the increased traffic on it.
No money for anything else but roads - but not roads that I'm using, OK?
7/16/2014 2:23:57 PM
Kam River says:
CN wants the city of Thunder Bay to "discharges the company from a 1906 agreement to maintain the bridge in perpetuity"
Why would we want to take on the responsibility of a 106 year old bridge when there is a new bridge a few minutes away.
Please this bridge is not need.
We can not afford it.
7/15/2014 5:55:14 PM
JYDOG says:
This is absolute proof that Mayor Hobbs is completely irresponsible for suggesting the road sections were safe, and obviously doesn't care about the safety of his constituents. This is not a surprise.
7/15/2014 5:18:50 PM
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