Articles by Valerie Kennedy

Ontario Northland transfer good sign for travellers in Northern Ontario

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November 12, 2019 – 12:00 AM

November 12, 2019

TORONTO– Steps toward a transfer of ministerial oversight of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission to the Ministry of Transportation is a positive change for residents in Northern Ontario, but the key component of Northlander rail line service remains missing.

“All residents of Ontario deserve access to a safe and reliable transportation network, that must include the North,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Unifor members in the transportation sector have called not only for this transfer, but also for the return of the Northlander rail service.” 

Following the cancellation of the Northlander rail service between Toronto and Cochrane six years ago, Unifor members have advocated for its return, to keep Ontario Northland in public hands, and for today’s transfer in order to increase collaboration with Metrolinx (Go Transit) and to connect more communities.

The union collected thousands of names and signatures from people demanding these changes, and a return of affordable passenger rail service to their communities.    

Today’s announcement, to explore transferring the Crown corporation, comes just one day after Ontario Northland reported the cancellation of bus service linking Manitoulin Island and Sudbury, remained silent on the return of the Northlander rail service. 

“A timely transfer of Ontario Northland will be step one for Doug Ford, but he’s still short of fulfilling his campaign promise to Northerners. The Premier ran on a pledge to bring back the Northlander train and increase service, and we’re still waiting to see it coming down the tracks,” continued Dias.

For further information, contact Sarah McCue, Unifor National Communications Representative at 416-458-3307 (cell) or

Polar Bear Habitat Cochrane Ontario

To those who provided their email addresses during the passenger rail survey in June:


With the plan for the return of passenger rail service so near it is sad to hear of the possible demise of Cochrane’s tourism jewel! The Polar Bear Habitat announcement last week took the public (and the Board of Directors) completely by surprise, especially when within weeks their consultant will be delivering the final report on their long-term action plan to move forward.

NEORN has been in touch with David MacLachlan (RTO13 / Destination Northern Ontario) and he hopes to have a representative at the public meeting Nov. 20th. Timmins is hosting the Northern Ontario Tourism Summit next week while all this is going on!

I will attend the Polar Bear Habitat Board meeting on Sunday November 17 to offer my help to make their case to the public to find some way to have the municipality continue financial support until a complete review of public comments and stakeholder involvement takes place. Marketing the passenger train return and the tourism opportunity is a potential source of funds. After all it was the demise of the train service in 2012 that likely caused the largest portion of attendance downturn according to the Cochrane CAO and the report.

Can and will you help in some way? At least the Cochrane Council could delay until Ontario Northland’s report is out and we all have a better idea of timing of the return of the passenger train. The Polar Bear Habitat is a key tourism economic generator for the town – a gem with great potential that we cannot afford to lose. And the train needs the Polar Bear Habitat as a ridership attraction just as much! I have also written to Corina Moore (President and CEO Ontario Northland) and Vic Fedeli (MPP) for their support – however they can.

I have attached several items for your use – these are going to my contacts and am asking that they be forwarded as well. The support letters to PBH are essential.

Thanks for listening once again. I promised my grandsons a ride on the train to see the polar bears – 2 super events – and I don’t want to disappoint them!

Best Regards

Lucille Frith

Co-Chair Northeastern Ontario Rail Network.