Big Lakes joins rail advocacy group

Richard Froese
For the Lakeside Leader

Big Lakes County has joined a new organization that is advocating for better railway service in northern Alberta.

At its March 8 meeting, county council decided to sign up with the Community Rail Advocacy Alliance (CRAA), for a $2,000 fee. Council also appointed councillor Richard Mifflin as the county rep on the alliance, which was created in January of this year.

At a recent Rural Municipalities Association regional meeting, CRAA was mentioned, and Mifflin suggested the membership question be brought to council.

Council heard that the CRAA was formed with a vision to advocate for better service from railways, in transporting freight to and from northern Alberta and the rest of the province.

“We want to share our resources with the world,” said reeve Robert Nygaard, “but we need reliable, equitable rail systems that support our participation. We do this in support of our industries in the county and up north…”

Other members of the alliance so far include a range of municipalities, including the Town of Slave Lake – many of them in the northwestern part of the province. The M.D. of Lesser Slave River has yet to get on board, though its reeve, Murray Kerik, spoke up in favour of it at a recent meeting.

Also on board are the Alberta Forest Products Association, Alberta Wheat and Barley Commission and the Northern Transportation Bureau.

The county’s director of community and protective services told council the group hopes it can get some “traction and action” in the next couple of years and then disband if successful.

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