Update on CP railway acquisition

Community News

By Patricia Leboeuf

Posted on Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Canadian Pacific (CP) Railway will be purchased by the County of Renfrew and its partners for $500,000 over three years, with the hopes of turning it into a regional trail network.

The abandoned railway is worth approximately $77 million, according to an independent appraisal. The purchase will go through with remaining sections leased until all three portions are legally surveyed and acquired. A public consultation will be conducted to determine exactly what will be done with it and a management committee and a work plan will be established.

“There is a huge interest in trails and trail development,” said Petawawa Mayor Bob Sweet. “We see this as a huge opportunity for economic development and tourism within Eastern Ontario.”

This project has been led by Sweet, and has been in the works since the railway was first dismantled in 2010. After Renfrew County failed its campaign to keep the CP railway service, the focus changed to acquiring the land.

“Don’t think for a second that county council and many members of local municipalities didn’t do everything in their power to go out there, and lobby both the federal government and the Province of Ontario to ensure the rail corridor stayed in place,” said Paul Moreau, Director of Property and Development for the County of Renfrew. “That was a big part of Renfrew County’s economic lifeblood, having that corridor go through here.”

To be able to purchase the land, he counted on a policy established in 1997 which allows counties to purchase right-of-way abandoned rail corridors in an effort to create a regional trail network. This purchase would be equivalent to 296 km or 2,447 acres and includes 37 bridges and underpasses. In Petawawa, there are 18 km worth of trail, and it also runs through Garrison Petawawa.

“We think that this would be the single, largest acquisition of a rail corridor in North America in one fell swoop,” said Moreau.