Federal Court Allows CN Rail to Continue Milton Hub Construction Amid Air Quality Concerns

The Federal Court of Appeal granted a stay on a lower court decision, allowing Canadian National Railway Co. to continue building a $250-million rail-and-truck hub in Milton, Ontario. The project was initially halted due to health concerns over air quality and 800 daily diesel-powered truck trips.

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Federal Court Allows CN Rail to Continue Milton Hub Construction Amid Air Quality Concerns

Federal Court Allows CN Rail to Continue Milton Hub Construction Amid Air Quality Concerns

The Federal Court of Appeal has granted a stay on a lower court decision to halt the construction of a massive rail-and-truck hub in Milton, Ontario, allowing Canadian National Railway Co. (TSX:CNR) to continue building the $250-million facility. The project involves doubling the existing line of tracks and constructing a terminal for containers to be transferred between trucks and freight cars.

The initial decision in March highlighted health concerns around air quality, noting the 800 diesel-powered trucks that would make daily round trips to the terminal in Ontario's Halton Region. The judge stated that while a halt to work on the project would have no effect on CN's long-term viability, any delay is "detrimental to the public interest."

Why this matters: This decision has significant implications for the balance between economic development and environmental concerns, as well as the impact on public health. The outcome of this case may set a precedent for future infrastructure projects, influencing the way companies and governments weigh competing interests.

The project was initially approved by cabinet in January 2021 but was sent back to Ottawa for reconsideration following the lower court decision. The Federal Court of Appeal's stay allows construction to continue while the appeal is being reviewed. The final word on whether work can proceed will rest on a later ruling from the appeal court.

The proposed rail-and-truck hub is located in Milton, Ontario, within the Greater Toronto Area's Halton Region. The facility is a major infrastructure project for CN Rail, Canada's largest railway company. CN operates a 19,500-mile network spanning Canada and the U.S., serving ports on both coasts.

The Federal Court of Appeal's decision to grant a stay, allowing construction to continue for now, comes as a victory for CN Rail in the ongoing legal battle over the Milton logistics hub. The $250-million facility promises to enhance the railway's capacity and efficiency in the crucial Toronto market, but has faced opposition over environmental and health concerns. As the appeal process unfolds, the future of this major infrastructure project hangs in the balance.

Key Takeaways

  • Federal Court of Appeal grants stay on lower court decision, allowing CN Rail to continue building $250M rail-and-truck hub in Milton, Ontario.
  • Project involves doubling tracks and constructing container terminal, but faces opposition over air quality and health concerns.
  • Lower court decision cited health risks from 800 daily diesel truck trips, but appeal court stay prioritizes economic development.
  • Outcome may set precedent for balancing economic and environmental interests in future infrastructure projects.
  • Final ruling on project's fate will come from Federal Court of Appeal in a later decision.