As I have mentioned in the media, I am sorry to learn the tourist train, Guelph Junction Express, may be sold and cease to operate in Guelph. I had the great pleasure of taking the trip and it was an excellent experience.
I believe there is some important information that will help with understanding the relationship between the tourist train, Guelph Junction Railway (GJR) and the City of Guelph and the difference between the private sector and public sector.
GJR is a business owned by the City of Guelph. GJR operates a profit-based commercial enterprise which is governed through a Board of Directors – not by City Hall. GJR contracts its rail operations to a third party providing rail service to the manufacturing sector.
Guelph Junction Express (the tourist train) is a privately-owned and operated business that has entered into a financial agreement with Guelph Junction Railway to use their tracks for their tourist business.
The owners of Guelph Junction Express could present a business proposal to the GJR Board of Directors for the funding support that is being sought. The GJR Board of Directors would need to determine the merits of the business case of such a proposal.
The Municipal Act is quite clear that a municipality cannot directly or indirectly provide such assistance using municipal property taxpayers’ money to a commercial enterprise. The tourist train is a commercial enterprise.
The tourist train in Orangeville has been frequently used as evidence that the City of Guelph can use taxpayers’ dollars to financially assist the tourist train in Guelph. Staff have followed up on this matter and it would appear that this suggestion is not correct as it is not an “apples to apples” comparison.
Like the City of Guelph, the Town of Orangeville has created a commercial enterprise to govern the operation of their railway. It is called the Orangeville-Brampton Railway Corporation.
Like GJR, the Orangeville-Brampton Railway Corporation has contracted the operation of the railway to a third party.
The difference is that the Orangeville-Brampton Railway contracts operations for both service to the manufacturing sector and their tourist train. The tourist train is owned and operated on behalf of the Town of Orangeville by Orangeville-Brampton Railway Corporation.
Unlike Orangeville-Brampton Railway Corporation, GJR is not in the tourism train business.
There is not a private sector owner-operator, similar to Guelph Junction Express, involved in the operation of the tourist train in Orangeville.
I hope a private-sector solution can be found to keep this tourist train in Guelph.