CN Hamilton shunting yard on April 8, 2024 Credit: Joey Coleman

With CN Rail and the City of Hamilton seemingly at an impasse over the Jamesville redevelopment, a Federal Court ruling is informative regarding the legal framework governing railway operations in Canada.

The Canadian National Railway Co. (CN Rail) has won a stay of a Federal Court decision that halted its construction of a massive multi-modal terminal in Milton. Halton Region opposes the terminal, and has tried to stop construction. For its part, CN Rail has cited its federal permissions to build the terminal, with the federal government siding with CN.

The Federal Court conducted a judicial review of the federal government’s approval of the terminal and ruled it unreasonable because the decision did not discuss the air quality impacts of diesel fumes on the local area.

In granting the stay, the Federal Court of Appeal rules there is a “public interest in the completion of the Project,” and delays will cause irreparable harm.

The decision reveals how the courts view the balance between the national interest of rail freight movement and local impacts.

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