THUNDER BAY -- A regional Christian outreach group is joining the call for the re-opening of the James Street Swing Bridge.
Ernie Epp, chairman of the Christian Outreach and Social Action Committee of Cambrian Presbytery, which represents the United Churches between Keewatin and Marathon, said the group was concerned about the impact of the closure of the bridge and felt they should say something.
"The least we could do was ask CN why the bridge was closed to cars and trucks when trains were crossing it and had been for months now," said Epp on Tuesday.
The James Street bridge has been closed to vehicle track since a fire severely damaged the structure in late October.
"We wanted to inquire but obviously underlying that is a feeling this is an enormous inconvenience to people in the community, particularly people in the Fort William First Nation and others living south of the Kaministiquia River who are now forced to drive out to Highway 61 to use an intersection that can be dangerous," Epp said.
"CN should be working more actively we think to have the bridge repaired as it appears necessary.”
The outreach committee addressed the letter to Olivier Chouc, CN's vice-president of law. They did receive an email response to the letter stating there are safety concerns around the roadways as they are attached to the main railway bridge.
"The letter also suggested they realized the importance of this issue and CN was working hard to come up with a solution to the difficulty," said Epp.
The committee is always on watch for social justice issues and Epp said the United Church of Canada has been anxious for some time about its relationship with First Nations.
"The questions of Right Relations is a very important issue for us in the United Church of Canada. This seemed to us a Right Relations issue, if you will, arising right here in our city of Thunder Bay."
Right Relationships is an initiative by the United Church of Canada to promote healing between the Aboriginal community and the church.
The United Church was involved in the residential school system in Canada until 1969.