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Community activist wants the city to consider moving rail yard

As the city moves toward replacing the Arlington Bridge, some are pitching the idea of getting rid of the rail yard altogether.

The project is expected to cost billions, but the exact number is uncertain because the city has never done a feasibility study.

Chair of the Point Douglas Residents Committee Sel Burrows believes the city should get that done before any work begins on a new Arlington Bridge.

“The juxtaposition of timing is going to be crucial, that we get moving on the study quite quickly. We’re hoping we’re going to be meeting with councillors and the mayor very shortly,” Burrows said.

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“The initiative needs to come from the City of Winnipeg to get this feasibility study going.”

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Burrows acknowledged that such a project would be very expensive and would take many years to complete, but without studying the idea, the city can’t truly look at it as an option.

“We need to have a serious study with the top experts and bring in the population of Winnipeg who have has a vision to talk about, ‘Hey, how can this be done? What will it cost? What will it take to do it?'” Burrows said. “Then we’ll have some real facts to work with instead of speculation.”

In the past, Mayor Brian Bowman has said he’s open to the discussion of moving the rail yard but noted that nothing serious had ever been considered. He said both the railway and federal governments would have to be big contributors to any sort of project.

As for what the heavily polluted land could be used for, Burrows had a few precedents to point to.

“There used to be a 100-acre CPR yard in Montreal that is now an upscale urban development. That was the same level of pollution,” Burrows explained. “Of course, we do say, ‘Guys, have you been to The Forks?’ That was the CNR yards of the same vintage.”

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Burrows said governments have to weigh the money needed for projects like the new bridge or an underpass at Marion and Archibald and compare that to the cost of just removing the rail yards.

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