It could cost taxpayers up to $400,000 to study the total, much larger cost to move CP rail lines out of Saskatoon, a report from the city says.
The report, which details the costs to investigating the feasibility of relocating the Sutherland rail yard and 55 kilometres of rail lines that run through the city, will be presented to the Transportation Committee for their consideration on Tuesday.
If approved, the study would examine all aspects of moving the rail lines, including impacts to local businesses and the rail company, the environment, and traffic. Potential solutions such as under and overpasses will also be examined. The costs are based off a similar study that will begin in Winnipeg.
“This is the first step to recognizing what costs could be in the future,” Mayor Don Atchison said. “Let’s not talk about what ifs, let’s talk about what we believe the costs could be, and once we have those numbers, it’s much easier to make decisions.”
The report said a cost-estimate study would carry at $200,000 price tag while a full cost-benefit analysis will double the price to $400,000.
Atchison has spoken with CN and CP about the possibility of the two competitors using CN’s lines south of the city, but their thoughts on relocation or collaboration “depends on what day of the week you’re talking to the rail companies,” he said.
“They partner together through the Fraser Valley,” he said. “If they can partner in different areas of the country, I don’t see why they can’t do the same thing through the city of Saskatoon.”
Under the Railway Relocation and Crossing Act, the city can get permission from the Canadian Transportation Agency to force rail companies to relocate if the lines prevent urban development. However the city could be responsible for the relocation costs and ensuring the move doesn’t hurt the rail company.
Atchison said at this time they don’t know who will shoulder the costs of the move.
The city said a capital project will be created for a possible future study which will be discussed during the 2017 Business Planning and Budget Deliberations.