What a sight! This moose on the shores of the Hudson Bay seems to be waiting for a ferry boat to pick him up. Rarely do these animals wander down to the coast but we’re happy to see this one and credit Sea North Tours for such an awesome shot! Enjoy!
Omnitrax, owner and operator of the Hudson Bay Rail line is continuing to seek government and First Nation help to fix the only land access to Churchill. Estimates of $60 million would restore the tracks to operation by the end of October. However, Omnitrax says they can’t and won’t do it alone!
“It [the rail line] is not commercially viable, so we believe it’s a public utility,” said Peter Touesnard, chief commercial officer for Omnitrax.
“We believe it’s still the least expensive way to supply service to the north, in particularly the community of Churchill, and we believe there is a role for the public to play in that.”
Two March blizzards of epic proportions melted this spring into widespread flooding across the tundra from Gillam to Churchill. Water flows across the land since permafrost lies just beneath the surface and it does not percolate into the soil though. Instead, it flows across the land and when enough accumulates it can move with a powerful force destroying man made features in its path. The ensuing damage to the tracks between Gillam and Churchill have caused a storm of even greater proportions.
With the crucial lifeline to the town inoperable and the main shipping line for goods and supplies cut off, food prices have dramatically increased and businesses have been forced to lay off staff due to soaring costs of securing the goods for their business to operate.
A written statement from Omnitrax was released on Tuesday via a spokesperson for the office of Transport Minister Marc Garneau:
“Omnitrax has an obligation to repair and maintain its line and maintain service to residents, and we expect Omnitrax to meet its obligations,” the statement reads.
“If Omnitrax fails to meet its obligations, our Government will have to examine what are the next steps and alternatives to ensure residents can get the food and supplies they need.”
Omnitrax announced Tuesday morning, that the company has a 60-day plan starting in September to begin repairing the tracks contingent on securing contractors, housing and resources for the project
Churchill Mayor Mike Spence says the timeline for rebuilding portions of the track and replacing bridges and culverts is leaving very little wiggle room with regards to weather in the north.
“The end of October and that’s it, your construction season is done,” Spence said. “So we’re running out of time, here. Let’s get on with it.”
Provincial Infrastructure Minister Blaine Pedersen stated his dissatisfaction with the Omnitrax repair schedule and plan; “Today’s technical briefing provided by Omnitrax was clearly inadequate, leaving many unanswered and hypothetical questions.”
“Our senior provincial officials have repeatedly asked Omnitrax for details about their independent engineering assessment and future intentions of the rail line including timetables respecting necessary mitigation efforts, details of insurance policies and status of claims, to which we have had no response,” Pedersen said.
“What was made clear today by senior Omnitrax officials is that they are not prepared to repair, maintain or operate the rail line. It appears that they intend to abandon the line. If so then it is their obligation to the people of Churchill and indeed Manitobans to communicate their abandonment decision to the federal government.”
A third – party track assessment Omnitrax commissioned was completed by AECOM Canada and the engineering company identified 31 washout areas, 68 culverts and 13 bridges requiring repair over the 300 kilometer run of the track from Gillam to Churchill.
In June the Canadian government approved an extension for the Nutrition North food subsidy program so Churchill would be able to keep grocery prices at a somewhat affordable price until rail service resumes. With Manitoba Health also contributing to the subsidy effort the rate will be at $1.60/kg.
On the surface this photo crew from National Geographic is searching out the King of the Arctic for conservation reasons. The end message states they got an “impactful” shot. Really, the only impactful thing done here was harassing a polar bear on a remote island in Franz Josef Land by flying a drone closely overhead of the bear in the name of conservation and attempt to get a stellar photo. The setting points to intentionally drawing the polar bear to the fixed cameras left on the beach as the groups shoves off shore from the beach. Well…as long as you got the shot, right?
Even the title of the video is misleading and sheds a bad light on polar bears, inferring that the bear charged the crew for no reason. Although the interaction is thrilling to the viewer when photographers approach wild animals like polar bears, especially those that have possibly had no human contact, it’s essential to treat them with respect and stay away so the interaction does not influence the behavior of the animal in any way. Not doing this is selfish and harmful to our wild ecosystems. Let’s hope most photographers follow this credo.
Four pretty cool photos from Nunavut. These northern pics capture the incredible light of the northern region. The stark vastness of the landscape and the solitude evoked from the photographs is striking and soothing for those in a hectic environment. There’s no place like the far north to escape the frenetic pace of the modern technological world. Churchill is the frontier town and gateway to the awesome north country!
Sea North Tours operates fantastic beluga whale watching trips on the Churchill River and Hudson Bay for groups like Natural Habitat Adventures. Their small group format allows travelers to get up close and personal with the belugas and other wildlife. The Sea North 2 carries 30 or so passengers and gives photographers a different vantage point from above the water while the Italian – made zodiacs can approach the whales within touching distance. Belugas enjoy following the slipstream from the zodiac’s outboard motor and sometimes three or four at a time troll behind in the bubbly wake. Every day on the water in Churchill is a different experience. Stay tuned for more unique wildlife photos from Sea North Tours!