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New rail yard facility open in Foremost

A new railyard, named in honour of the late former MLA Leonard Mitzel, is officially open in Foremost, Alta. As Emily Olsen reports, the community is excited for the opportunities it will bring.

Foremost has a new rail yard facility that has been named in honour of the late former MLA Leonard Mitzel.

Community members unveiled the site in Foremost on Friday.

The Leonard Mitzel Logistics Facility is part of the 40 Mile Rail — a short line designed to transport local grains and other loads across the country.

Foremost Mayor Lorne Buis says Mitzel’s drive for the project sparked the community to come together.

“After he retired, he took over running our rail line,” Buis said.

“He was our day-to-day guy and when Leonard passed away a few years back, it really was a hit to us.”

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“He put a lot of energy, a lot of passion, into getting the short line rail started,” said Brian Hildebrand, a member of 40 Mile Rail.

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“We owe a lot of gratitude to him and to his memory.”

The site has already been bustling with its first client.

“The 40 Mile Rail has been unloading wind parts all summer for a wind farm,” Buis said.

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Steve Wikkerink, Reeve for the County of 40 Mile No. 8, says the site has given a fresh start to industry in the area.

“With a lot of the rail lines being pulled out over the years [and grain] elevators disappearing, it’s really been hard on these small communities,” Wikkerink said.

“So we have this large, lay-down yard now that was built specifically for the new wind energy that’s coming into the county.”

“The potential for that is can be used for going forward is huge,” he added.

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READ MORE: A southern Alberta wind farm is well underway

Lorne Buis says the town is flourishing with new job creation and increased traffic.

“Whether it’s the little kids that are excited to come watch them unload with a crane or the seniors,” Buis said. “You know, I think there’s one gentleman that has sat there every day. Every time they’ve unloaded, he’s come and watched.”

Mitzel’s widow, June, was also in attendance on Friday.

“She’s pretty emotional,” Lorne Buis said.

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“We all are. Leonard was a good friend to all of us. Everyone has pulled together to make [his] dream come true… to make the community’s dream come true.”

According to Buis, the Leonard Mitzel Logistics Facility has already seen a few companies move closer to the site, which gives the community members a lot of hope for the future.