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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - March 6, 1973, Lethbridge, Alberta 2 THE IETHBRIDCE HERALD Tuetduy, March WHO GIVES A HUFF ABOUT ELEVATORS? Ccnlra'izntion cf counlry ele- vator delivery points rttld the proposed abandonment of num- erous raiJway lines is fast be- coming the number one agri- cultural topic in Southern Al- berta. Focused primarily in ntral Southern Allierla south aiul west of Lethbridge, farm groups, of commerce and members of the business communities are starling to combat what has been called "a pending problem tbat has to Ije fought now.'? Spearheaded by (he Magralh and District Chamber of Com- merce, the series of regional meetings IxHng lield throughout Southern Alberta is fighting a long-term proposal which could eliminate thousands of miles of railway liner, and hundreds of country elevator points by (The Canada Grains Council formed a grains group to inves- tigate problems in lite grains industry. The group hived Bill Nioman of Nieman Consulting in Winnipeg to study the grain handling facilities in Western Canada. Cutbacks Mr. Nicman's report recom- mended cutbacks in (lie coun- try elevator system from sev- eral thousand delivery points U> just less than 300 and the aban- donment of up to miles of rail lines by 1990.) Tile group is also interested in a possible move by CP Rail to apply to abandon lines it considers uneconomical in Southern Alberta. The Herald tom-cd four of the railway lines in question and the surrounding districts last week. Ray Marker, a farmer-cham- ber of commc'rce member-town councillor for Magrath, said if the rails go, fanners will lose the chance to for thcm- vtelves. He said without tlie rails, most farmers will have to biro much of their out, especially the grain hauling. inadequate John Moors, nnotliev Magrath town councillor and owner of Alberta Woo] Products, said tlie abandonment of the railway lines would make tlie present highway system in Alberta in- artequatc overnight. He feels the railway lines are essential to maintain the small communities m Alberta. When the spring road bans are instituted, he said, farmers couldn't haul grata as efficient- ly or cheaply either, he said. Mr. Barker said Highway 62 from Magralh to Del Bonita is representative of wtial loaded grain ami cattle trucks can do to a good road. "Drive down Highway 62 and he said. "The major- ity of (he patches are on I he east side of the road, the side the loaded trucks haul to Ma- grath, Welling and Lcthbridgc. "The west sicTe of the road is okay because the majority of the trucks going south arc emp- ty." Edgar Henry, owner of the Del Bonita General Store, said tnreking fees to haul the grain to a centralized delivery point would double to 10 cents per bushel if Use railway lines are abiindoncd. He said the hauling fees might be able to be lowered with the use of much bigger trucks but the roads can't han- dle tliem. "If CP Rail pulls out of our district, a lot of small farmers will sell lie said, "And my business will die also." The delivery point of Jeffer- son will be closed at the end of the 1973 crop year, agents say. This will mean that farm- ers will have to haul to Whisky Gap or Woolford or Cardston. Story and photographs by RIC SWIHART Jefferson will then join sever- al olher delivery points on the sidelines. Art Thompson, vice president of the Palliser Wheat Growers Association, points out tliat to be a viable delivery point, the elevators sliould have an annu- al turnover of Wi times their capacity. Figures from the economics and statistics division of the Canadian Grain Commission re- veal that Jefferson handled only one lialf the capacity erf the delivery point during the 1970- 71 crop year. "This means it cost about 50 to 60 cents a bushel to liandle the grain at said Mr. Thompson, "This also means that (lie delivery points which are making a profit are points such as Jef- ferson." Luxury He said farmers should rea- lize tliat it is a luxury for all towns to maintain all facilities. Delivery points which constant- ly cost money to operate should not be maintained. It also seems tliat the Cana- dian wlieat board arid CP Rail aren't absolved of all blame for tlie poor movement of grain in Southern Alberta. Two delivery points hadn't shipped any cars since Dec. 22, JS172, although one point re- ceived an order for 10 cars the