New Player May Facilitate Port and Rail Sale

With little time to waste a new player has surfaced in the crucial sale of the Port of Churchill to two independent First Nations groups in the north. Investment firm Fairfax Financial Holdings from Toronto hopes to partner with One North and Missinippi Rail LP to wrest ownership from Denver, Colorado-based Omnitrax and set forth in motion the extensive repairs to the Hudson Bay Line damaged by severe flooding last May.

Port of Churchill

The Port of Churchill may be under new ownership soon. CBC News photo.

The new prospective partner will also bring a financially sound backing and a strong business base to the deal that Churchill officials and residents hope will secure access to the south and free them from isolation.

According to reliable sources, a negotiator for the federal government, former clerk of the Privy Council Wayne Wouters, has brokered a deal with the two potential owners.

“This development has the potential to contribute to an arrangement supported by First Nations and communities in northern Manitoba,” Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr said in a statement released Thursday.

“This would enable a sustainable business approach that results in a safe and reliable rail line.”

Paul Rivett, president of Fairfax Financial Holdings, said “we are optimistic about the prospects of northern gateways.” stated in a press release.

“The Churchill rail corridor and the Port of Churchill are important pieces of infrastructure for northern communities and to the economy of Canada. Partnering with First Nations and communities is the right model for this investment,” Rivett said.

He said Fairfax will rely on a company it has invested in, AGT Foods, to develop a plan that is “viable and profitable in the long term as a business.”

Earlier this week, Ottawa responded with an $18-million lawsuit against Omnitrax after it filed filed a claim for damages against the federal government under the rules of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The head of the Fairfax, V. Prem Watsa, has been characterized as the “Warren Buffet of Canada” often investing in troubled companies and turning them into a positive entity. Watsa invested in BlackBerry and Fairfax has significant holdings in several other companies.

V. Prem

Fairfax Financial CEO and chair V. Prem Watsa.CBC News photo.

Omnitrax signed a memorandum of understanding with First Nations Consortium Missinippi Rail in June and then joined forces with One North to strengthen interests in purchasing Omnitrax’s Manitoba assets.

Churchill Mayor Mike Spence, in a written statement to CBC News, said transferring the port and rail line to a stable, strong northern regional ownership group is the highest priority. He is behind the efforts to find a partner to purchase the assets one hundred per cent.

“I am pleased that there are outstanding companies that also share this vision. We now need the negotiations expedited and [to] ensure our preparations for repairs to the rail line and port are ready for the 2018 season,” wrote Spence.

Polar Bear Season Reflections

polar Bear Churchill

A Polar bear wandering the coast of Churchill. Colby Brokvist photo.

 

Cross fox Churchill

A cross fox loping along the tundra in search of prey. Colby Brokvist photo.

 

polar bear in Churchill

A curious polar bear up on a polar rover in Churchill. Colby Brokvist photo.

 

Inukshuk in Churchill aurora borealis

High above the tundra with the aurora blazing above. Colby Brokvist photo.

 

Arctic hare in Churchill

An Arctic hare making good use of its camouflage. Colby Brokvist photo.

 

Polar bears in Churchill

Polar bears awaiting the ice forming on the Hudson Bay. Colby Brokvist photo.

Polar bear season is winding down however the wildlife sightings are even better than ever. These fantastic shots from Natural Habitat Adventures guide Colby Brokvist are an indication that we still have some treasures left in this 2017 season!

We had a scare last week when the Hudson Bay was on the brink of freeze – up but then the south winds prevailed, allowing for the ice to be pushed north for the time being and thus keeping some energetic polar bears around for a bit longer. What a season it has been with so many fox sightings and even a wolverine.

Polar bears have been up to their usual sparring displays lately as well as numerous sow and cubs interacting on the tundra. With only a week or so left for travelers venturing to Churchill to see the King of the Arctic, we have fingers crossed that the weather will allow for polar bears to linger in the Churchill Wildlife Management Area!

Churchill Photos of the Week

northern lights Canada

Incredible northern lights in Norman Wells, NWT. Nicky Lynn photo.

 

Shaking off the winter cold. Colby Brokvist photo.

 

polar bear in Churchill

Polar bear wandering along the land fast ice in Churchill. Rhonda Reid photo.

 

polar bear silver fox churchill, Manitoba

Awesome shot of a silver fox and polar bear in the Churchill Wildlife Management Area. Bill McPherson photo.

 

polar bear and polar rover

Polar bear under the back deck of a polar rover. Colby Brokvist photo.

Some amazing photos from the tundra in Churchill and sky above the Northwest Territories! The images we are receiving from the north have been just incredible all season long. Some exciting news as well that the ice that has been forming in the Hudson Bay has been blown to the north by some steady south winds. Hopefully, this will keep polar bears on land for the duration of the polar bear season in Churchill!

Churchill Photo of the Week – Cross Fox

What a stellar shot of a cross fox with a lemming in its mouth by Konan Wendt is quite a catch for the photographer and the fox. A plethora of foxes have inhabited the northern tundra this season. A noticeable increase in Arctic and Cross foxes has allowed for some interesting shots like this one that have been absent for a few years.Polar bears have been the main draw here in Churchill though the fox population has rivaled the king of the Arctic this season. Enjoy!

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