By Jamie Rieger
The train hauling grain out of Foremost has made numerous trips to Stirling since it first started operated a few weeks ago and Forty Mile Rail held an official grand opening last week to celebrate the occasion.
“Everybody is pretty excited. It seemed to take forever for us to get here,” said Len Mitzel, general manager.
The short-line rail, the first of its kind in southern Alberta, has close to 100 shareholders and allows local producers to work directly with grain buyers get their grain to market. It also is a huge boon for the Village of Foremost and surrounding area.
“This project is not about just us,” said Paul Laqua, president of Forty Mile Rail . “No community is without a port and we needed some form of transportation to get our goods to market. We have a tremendous opportunity now to get our goods to market and have a tremendous opportunity to connect with the buyers. A lot of buyers are having a hard time finding the product and there is where we come in.”
A number of grain buyers traveled to Foremost for the occasion.
Christos Lygouriatis, marketing manager for XPT Grain Inc, a Chinese company based in Regina, attended the event.
“We look at the opportunities we see here and can have better control of getting our product to the elevator and from the elevator to Vancouver for shipment to China,” said Lygouriatis. XPT Grain Inc. Ships green peas and yellow peas to a manufacturing plant in China for food production.
Montu Mannon and Claire Shoemaker, from North America Milling in Toronto, who have visited Foremost several times, were also in attendance for the official grand opening.
“This is a huge accomplishment for the town and the people should be very proud,” said Mannan.
Laqua went on to tell those attending the event that every dollar earned will be staying in the local community.
“Every dollar we make stays here. There is reason for our kids to stay here in Foremost,” said Laqua, who went on to thank all the efforts of Len Mitzel, who has been with the project since the beginning.
“Len has put his life into this community and Etzikom. He has passion for his community and its history. Len. If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t be standing here today.”
Mitzel thanked the contractors and all of the people who helped make it all happen; from shareholders to community members.
Cypress-Medicine Hat MLA Drew Barnes also attended the grand opening.
“This is such a huge opportunity and huge accomplishment. To have the opportunity to restore this track will benefit future generations and you will have a stronger, more vibrant community,” said Barnes. “You took a leap of faith and now have an opportunity for a stronger economy.”