The potential sale of the Port of Churchill and the Hudson Bay rail line is a positive move forward according to Hudson Bay Route Association President Elden Boon.

It was revealed Thursday that current owner OmniTrax has signed a memorandum of understanding with a group of northern Manitoba First Nations, known as the Missinippi Rail Consortium.

"I'm hoping that this will become binding down the road," said Boon. "At least we all know who the potential buyers [are], it's always been out there, but when you have a memorandum of agreement then that's the next step."

He notes the timing of the development is critical.

"If we lose another shipping season, from our point of view, it's going to be a real struggle to bring grain back into that port," commented Boon.

He adds the closure of the port earlier this year has had a negative effect on farmers in northwest Manitoba and northeast Saskatchewan who were using the port. Boon explains that area doesn't have access to mainline rail, and getting grain out of those areas has been a challenge.

OmniTrax has also cut freight service to Churchill on the Hudson Bay rail line in half, bringing it down to once a week from twice a week.

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