CN Rail set to announce plans for intermodal facility in Milton

  • March 17, 2015
  • John Rich

The Town of Milton and Halton Region have learned that the Canadian National Railway Company (CN) intends to announce that it will move forward with a proposal to build an intermodal facility in Milton. The company plans to make the announcement at a Milton Chamber of Commerce event on Thursday, March 19. CN will then proceed with a Federal Environmental Assessment for the proposed facility and will file an official project description on Monday, March 23.

The proposed intermodal terminal would be built on a 400-acre plot of CN-owned land, located between Britannia Road and Lower Base Line. It would be designed to transfer cargo containers between rail cars and trucks to move goods eastward cross the Greater Toronto Area and throughout North America. The facility would be approximately 2,900 metres in length and have the capacity to handle four trains per day. Once completed, the terminal would operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

CN has not provided the Town or Halton Region with a formal site plan for the project or other important details, but both governments have serious concerns that this location is not appropriate.

"As it stands, CN's proposal is contrary to our vision for the Town of Milton," said Mayor Gordon Krantz. "Their plan lacks detail and does not recognize the needs of our residents or that the integrity of our community is protected."

Town and Regional staff noted that the expanded railway operations and services proposed by CN are not consistent with existing zoning or the Official Plans of the Town and the Region, and could have significant environmental, transportation, social and land use planning implications.

The Town and the Region have made CN aware of these issues, but the company still plans to proceed with the project, claiming that neither Milton, the Region, nor the provincial or federal government, has a say in determining whether the project moves forward.

Town and Regional staff will work to ensure that the proposed facility follows a full regulatory approval process.

This proposal marks CN's second attempt to establish an intermodal facility in Milton. In 2001, CN proposed a similar project. Both the Town and the Region identified several major issues with that plan, including an increase in traffic, noise and air pollution, a loss of agricultural land, and negative impacts on wildlife, habitats and other environmental resources. The proposal also prompted outcry from members of the community and opposition groups before it was withdrawn The present project is also at odds with CN's commitment to Regional Council that it would not build the intermodal facility, and would pursue a rail-served industrial development on the lands instead.