The man representing Saskatoon’s business leaders is backing the relocation of the city’s rail lines.
NSBA Executive Director Keith Moen told the city’s transportation committee the association supports directing resources towards the project.
“I encourage you to think big,” he told councillors on Monday afternoon. “This is a prime opportunity for us.”
The committee was considering a study by infrastructure consultation firm HDR comparing costs and benefits of overpasses and underpasses at rail crossings versus relocating the rails.
The study found the negative impacts of the first option were too great, leaving relocation as the better option.
Chief among the recommendations is convincing CP and CN rail to move into a “shared corridor” of rail infrastructure to the south of Saskatoon, rather than moving their trains through the city.
Moen told councillors it would be a good move.
“The business case is here. Time is money,” he said.
There’s no cost estimate attached to the shared corridor option, though city officials said last week moving the CP line alone is estimated at $590 million.
Ward 5 Coun. Randy Donauer asked Moen if he’d be willing to lobby his members, the city’s entrepeneurs, on tax increases to fund the project.
“If someone wants us to spend that kind of money, they need to be part of the parade yelling loudly,” Donauer said.
Moen confirmed businesses would be willing to spend more to get rid of rail crossing wait times.
“This is an investment, and it’s for the betterment of the city,” he said.
However, he noted the city could also raise money to move the rail lines by putting smaller projects on the backburner.
“Rail relocation should be a priority for funding and planning,” he said.
He added there’s a business case for CN and CP, saying moving the lines south of the city would make their routes shorter and save them money.
City council will debate rail relocation at their meeting on March 26.