Ripping up rails – could CP be more stupid?

Mississippi Mills is one of the communities that will be adversely affected by Canadian Pacific Railway’s decision to rip up the rails that currently run through the Ottawa Valley. The full story can be found on The Millstone, here.

When the National Capital Region is finally starting to do something about sustainable transport and light rail, it seems particularly ludicrous that we’re about to lose our rails and any option of ever linking Almonte, Carleton Place and Smiths Falls to Ottawa, a place where many of our local residents go to work each day. Once CP has finished the job of ripping out our rails, it’s only a matter of time until developers buy the land and use it for other purposes.

It seems obvious that public transport arteries should not be wholly controlled by private interests, as there is no sense of obligation or responsibility for the loss of options experienced by the communities involved. While I certainly would agree that whatever we do needs to be financially viable, what I can’t understand is how a private company can be allowed to make a short term decision with such long term ramifications. So many times in our past politicians and businesses have made short term decisions that allow them to balance the books and maybe even please many people at the time, but which have far reaching and damaging long term consequences.

It sound like the fight for the Ottawa Valley Railway has been lost, but I’ve promised my children that I’ll find a way to keep fighting, because it just doesn’t make sense. We’re on the cusp of needing our railways more than ever, and we have to find a way to preserve them while we work together to create viable sustainable transport plans for our communities. Half of our recently adopted community heads to Ottawa-Gatineau to work every day, and right now most of them need to do this in their cars. Crazy. If ever we needed the rails that our ancestors put down more than a century ago, that time is now.

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