February 9, 2015 - City Council tonight rejected the most recent and final offer from CN regarding the James Street Swing Bridge and have directed the City Solicitor to now seek confirmation from the court of the validity of the 1906 agreement which requires CN to maintain the bridge in perpetuity.
The decision follows a thorough review by City Administration and Council of CN's offer of Jan. 23, 2015. CN proposed to permanently limit the bridge to alternating one-way traffic, a measure generally used on a temporary basis for construction zones (eg. bridges). As well, the City would have to "surrender" the 1906 agreement and Fort William First Nation would have to agree to give up its current and future rights in any land claims process.
"Frankly in our view, it's a bad deal offered in bad faith," said Mayor Keith Hobbs. "Let's be absolutely clear. CN owns the James Street Swing Bridge, and is trying to buy its way out of the 1906 agreement with an option that is unworkable as a long-term solution. First and foremost, the proposal does not provide an acceptable, long-term solution for vehicular flow and traffic safety, and it attempts to transfer much of the liability of the bridge and responsibility for maintenance from CN to the City.
In 1906, CN agreed to build the bridge between the then Town of Fort William and Fort William First Nation. Now in 2015, CN wants the citizens of Thunder Bay to assume the responsibility for vehicular use of a 100-year-old bridge and maintain it in perpetuity. As well, it is unconscionable that CN is trying to use the City's interest in having the bridge re-opened to traffic as leverage to require Fort William First Nation to give up all its inherent rights."
CN and the Government of Canada have offered up to $3 million towards construction. However, CN has denied the City access to any Engineering studies to assess the condition of the bridge or the breakdown of capital costs. There is no way to confirm that the construction cost will be held at $3 million, and that there would be no cost to the City.
Key Facts
March 29, 1905 - Town of Fort William and Grand Trunk Pacific Railway enter an agreement to make Thunder Bay a major western terminus of operations
March 28, 1906 - Town of Fort William and Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Company execute an agreement pertaining to the construction of the bridge, which includes the stipulation that Grand Trunk - which subsequently became CN - is responsible to "maintain the bridge in perpetuity"
Oct. 24, 2013 - City offers to cooperate with CN on a structural assessment of the bridge [no response has been forthcoming from CN]
Oct. 29, 2013 - Fire damages the bridge. The cause of the fire remains unknown, and remains under investigation by the Provincial Fire Marshall's office.
Nov. 1, 2013 - CN reopens the bridge to train traffic only. It remains closed to vehicular traffic.
July 15, 2014 - CN makes public its offer with options and conditions to open the bridge within weeks to vehicular and pedestrian traffic - these include a full and final release of CN from the 1906 agreement
July 21, 2014 - City Council rejects CN's offer and commits to a more detailed and broader legal review
July 2014 - Jan. 23, 2015 - Negotiations held confidentially, resulting in two, draft written CN offers which received detailed review by the City

- 30 -

Contact:        Mayor Keith Hobbs, 625-3601
                       City Manager Tim Commisso, 625-2224