May 12, 2022
Nearly a year after a tense Council City Council meeting delegation with VIA Rail official regarding the future of the Cornwall station, local Member of Parliament Eric Duncan, Senator Bernadette Clement, and Cornwall Mayor Glen Grant recently travelled to Montreal for a meeting with CEO Cynthia Garneau to discuss community concerns regarding the future of Cornwall’s VIA Rail Station.
The meeting, which took place Friday afternoon at VIA Headquarters in downtown Montreal, was an opportunity for the local leaders to raise several concerns about service levels and lack of capital investments at the city’s station located near the intersection of Pitt & Balmoral Streets. The meeting was deemed constructive and was an opportunity to ‘reset’ VIA’s relationship with local leaders after years of declining communication and partnerships.
The meeting was an opportunity to raise several concerns regarding the Cornwall VIA station including lack of capital investments and modernizations in the station’s building, a desire for improved scheduling times, and an offer to partner together with City and regional officials to better promote and grow ridership at the Cornwall station.
MP Duncan, Senator Clement, and Mayor Grant have been meeting regularly to advance the community concerns regarding improved schedule times and frequency of stops at the Cornwall station. In the meeting with CEO Garneau, the group raised those concerns regarding the lack of meaningful upgrades and enhancements to the Cornwall VIA Station over the past 12 years, while numerous other stations in Ontario have received millions of dollars in funding for modernization and enhancements.
The Cornwall station also remains unstaffed while other similar stations and communities in Ontario with comparable populations have staff posted regularly at their stations.
In the 2022 federal budget, the government has proposed to provide $42.8 million over four years to construct, maintain, and upgrade stations and maintenance centres in the Windsor to Quebec City corridor. Duncan, Clement and Grant have committed to pressuring that the federal government and VIA commit funds to the Cornwall station as it has not had any modernizations and major capital improvements in decades.
“Following face to facediscussions with VIA Rail on Friday, I’m confident that moving forward, both the City and VIA will be able to come together to improve train service to our region.
Being able to speak with the CEO of VIA to share our concerns was a positive step. However, we still need to see serious commitments and firm plans to finally get the renovations and upgrades we deserve at our VIA station. The City of Cornwall and our region have been more than patient after years of being ignored and underserviced.”
–Glen Grant, Mayor of the City of Cornwall
“It is important that we speak up for our region to make sure our VIA station gets the respect we deserve when it comes to having a modern station with better service. I felt that the meeting was actually a step in the right direction after years of frustration and was an opportunity to ‘reset’ the discussions and partnership with VIA. We will continue our pressure to make sure that we get our fair share of funds for station upgrades and proper service levels.
While VIA High Frequency Rail is getting much attention these days, we need to make sure that Cornwall doesn’t suffer from ‘death by a thousand cuts’. We have encouraged VIA to be proactive and clear to our community about their station plans, their scheduling, and provide a serious and public commitment to try and grow our ridership, not see it decline.”
–Eric Duncan, Member of Parliament (Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry)
“I’m optimistic that we can work together with VIA to improve communication with, and planning for, our region. As a community, we need more connection, not less. Our economic and social development depends on our ability to connect with major centres like Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa for work, social ties, tourism, health, and so much more.
This isn’t just about Cornwall – Akwesasne, Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry represent well over 100,000 people who will be disconnected from the high frequency rail system under the current proposal. We need a plan that will respect the needs of Eastern Ontario residents and businesses, a plan that matches our vision for growth.”
–Bernadette Clement, Senator (Ontario)