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Judge says construction on massive CN Rail hub can continue — for now

Construction on a massive rail-and-truck hub in the Greater Toronto Area can proceed for the time being, according to a ruling from the Federal Court of Appeal. The future of the $250-million Canadian National Railway Co. (CN) terminal in Milton, Ontario, remains uncertain as the case undergoes further legal review.

This decision comes after a lower court had halted construction, citing health concerns related to air quality. Federal Appeal Court Justice George Locke granted a stay on this ruling, allowing CN to continue building pending the appeal. Judge Locke noted that while stopping construction wouldn’t impact CN’s long-term operations, delaying the project could harm public interests.

“The harmful effects of construction emissions appear to be outweighed by the costs to CN of suspending its construction activities, and more importantly, the public interest in the completion of the project,” Locke stated.

The proposed hub aims to double CN’s existing tracks in the area and facilitate the transfer of containers between semi-trucks and freight cars. CN argues that this project is crucial for meeting the growing demand for freight services in the rapidly expanding Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA).

“The Milton Logistics Hub is critical to handle the growing demand for household goods, consumer products, and other necessities of day-to-day life. The hub will connect businesses in the GTHA directly with ports and markets, taking trucks off the road and powering local economic activity,” said CN spokesman Jonathan Abecassis.

However, the project has faced significant opposition due to environmental and health concerns. In March, a Federal Court highlighted issues related to air quality, with 800 diesel trucks and four diesel-powered freight trains expected to operate daily at the hub. These operations could release toxic pollutants, posing risks to the community’s health.

Milton Mayor Gordon Krantz expressed concerns about the terminal’s impact on the 34,000 residents living within a kilometer of the site. Halton Region spokeswoman Holly Einboden urged residents to voice their health concerns to legislators.

The final decision on whether construction can continue will come from a later ruling by the Federal Court of Appeal.

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