Several farmers and businessmen in the Ottawa-Gatineau area are concerned that a blockade near Belleville, Ontario, which has stopped rail service may soon damage their results if it is not resolved quickly.
CN Rail trains have not been running since Thursday as indigenous communities and supporters have been protesting the construction of the Coastal GasLink gas pipeline in northern British Columbia.
The pipeline would pass through the hereditary land of the people of Wet’suwet’en.
Some business owners fear that the stopping of rail traffic may replicate the effects of the CN Rail strike last fall, when they faced a shortage of propane gas, which is necessary to heat their facilities.
Marc Bourdon, the owner of Bourdon Feed and Grain in Maxville, Ontario, said a lot of propane is transported by rail. Chicken farms in particular depend almost entirely on propane, he said.
Bourdon said that although he is not yet experiencing a shortage, his reserves are declining and the situation could worsen if blockages persist.
It’s really worrying, it has to be resolved this week.– Marc Bourdon, owner of Bourdon Feed and Grain
But propane supply is not the only thing that worries Bourdon.
He said that many essential foods for livestock, such as soybeans, corn and grains, are also transported by rail.
“It’s really worrisome. It has to be resolved this week. And it’s not just about farms, but it will also affect residences,” Bourdon said.
Quick action is needed, says association
In a press release on Friday, the Canadian Propane Association called on the federal government and the provinces to act immediately to lift the blockades.
The association cites a 2008 report that shows that approximately 60 percent of all Canadian households that use propane as primary heating fuel are located in Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic in Canada.
However, the agricultural industry is not the only one that expresses concerns.
According to the National Association of Capital Companies, several sectors of the economy are likely to be affected if rail traffic is still stopped.
Concerns about tourism, the hotel industry.
Lise Sarazin, executive director of the association, said the blockades also affect passenger transport inside and outside the region.
She said the association is concerned about how events and business meetings in the Ottawa-Gatineau region will be affected.
“When a person comes from another city, the money is invested in catering, hotel and taxi transportation. That amounts to thousands of dollars every day,” he said.
Sarazin said companies are starting to mobilize and think about what they will do if the blockages do not end soon.
The business community in the region is arguing with provincial and federal ministers, according to Sarazin, and is calling for the blockade, which he considers illegal, to stop as soon as possible.