Future of railway spur line remains uncertain

Before town councillors make any decisions on the railway spur line in the northeast industrial park

Before town councillors make any decisions on the railway spur line in the northeast industrial park, they want to speak with affected users.

There are three businesses along the spur line, explained Meghan Jenkins, planning manager for Parkland Community Services. She told council during a committee of the whole meeting Tuesday, Jan. 20 that two of the three businesses use the spur line.

To be able to use that line, which had fallen under disrepair and was not up-to-date on safety standards, the Town of Ponoka has paid almost $230,000 in recent years to make it usable, said Jenkins.

She suggests council has three options: manage it, sell it to users or get rid of it. If the town managed the line, it would have to take a more involved role in how it is used.

Mayor Rick Bonnett advised against making any firm decisions until administration could speak with the affected businesses. “We definitely have to make some sort of decision but we need to give them some time.”

“It was one of the things they (town council) built in the 1980s and then never looked at again,” Bonnett added.

Annual maintenance costs for the line are estimated at $9,000 for each business if all three accessed it. Expanding the line is also not possible as there are homes, on the Ponoka County side, not much farther past the end of the spur line. On the town property side, there are approximately eight landowners abutting the spur line.

In order to operate the spur line, the town must have a $5 million insurance policy in place. No decisions were made as committee of the whole meetings are for information purposes only.