One of the crime scenes

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

OmniTRAX ™

Omnitrax was in the news this morning, in the Kootenays at least. It seems that Omnitrax ("the largest privately held rail services company in North America" - source),wants to pull rail service from Grand Forks. This is being resisted by the town, but usually the railroad eventually gets it way. It gets to remove service AND keep any gifts of real estate that were originally given to encourage the development of rail service. Anyone paying attention has seen this process happen to community after community at terrible cost to the local economy and the planet's evironmental health.

In Grand Forks the loss of rail cars to connect to anywhere in North America will most likely result in the closure of the slag processing industry that cleans up old smelter waste from what was once "the largest non-ferrous copper smelter in the British Empire" providing local jobs and income at the same time. The old slag is processed to be used for abrasive products, sandblasting applications, and granules to coat asphalt shingles. To ship the current output would put 4,000 semi's on the secondary highway at greater cost both financially and in carbon emissions. The loss of service would have a negative effect on shipping forest products when demand returns for these south of the border.

Click to Enlarge Map
Kettle Falls International Railway

At a time when we shouldn't be tearing out old railroad infrastructure, but building more to move goods and people, those running government and the corporate elite (the same crowd, eh?) only see the short term profits to be made by real estate development of the associated right of ways and switching yards. Omnitrax, "an affiliate of The Broe Companies (," says on its website that it has a vision concerning:

"We are an active buyer and manager of transportation-related assets, and we assist industry in site selection--ensuring multiple transportation options that create long-term value"

And in the Central Valley of California, they brag of this project:

An example of our innovative approach to business development is the creation of Eco Transport, a container-on-barge service and satellite container terminal that links importers and exporters in the Central Valley of California with major West Coast ports. The project anticipates removing over one million truck trips from the highway system, reducing traffic congestion and harmful air emissions.

But here in the colonies, Omnitrax wants to remove trains and ADD TRUCKS to often already inadequate and poorly maintained highways. Just as CP has pulled out of much of Southern BC, leaving a legacy of shopping malls and condos, courtesy of Marathon (and Gordon Campbell - erstwhile Marathon Man), Omnitrax will gravitate to the profit centers and leave the rest of Canada to move their goods by dogsled or canoe, if necessary.

Just a couple weeks ago the CBC had this news item, about Omnitrax wanting to abandon a line serving northwest Saskatchewan.

Last fall, the Carlton Trail Railway, owned by OmniTRAX Inc., announced it would be decommissioning the rail line, tearing up the track that links Meadow Lake to Prince Albert.

That's about 320 kilometres of line running through 12 communities.

It was bad news for Meadow Lake's struggling forest industry, which used the rail line to transport its product. The local group started negotiating with the company to purchase the rail line.

Who Is Pat Broe?

Pat Broe is the founder and head cheese of the Broe Group.

Real Estate Transportation & Energy Investment Development

* Diversified value investor
* Buyer & builder of businesses
* Focused on asset based companies

We acquire, develop and manage commercial real estate assets, own and operate diverse transportation businesses centered on rail, maritime and terminal management, and explore natural resources--all as independent business platforms. Each has its own dynamic growth strategy. Over the last 35 years, we’ve built a multi-billion dollar asset base and a world-class management team through direct investment in and development of each of these business groups.

Putting Pat Broe into the search box over at BC Mary's Legislature Raids might make you think that Mr. Broe is pretty well connected in B.C. for a guy from Denver. Omnitrax is of course one of the elephants that hangs out in the courtroom down at Robson and Smithe. Omnitrax, the rail division of Broe Group, that excels perhaps in closing rail lines (to make real estate development possible?) and pretending to be in auctions for other railroads (ie BC Rail) in return for "consolation" railroads. The consolation railroad, with no trains, is happily being run by a feller making approximately a cool 1/2 Billion per annum - think what he would have to be paid if he actually had to run some trains!

Omnitrax seemed to be quite involved in the RCMP surveilled dinner at Villa Del Lupo and appears to have retained the infamous Pilot House Lobbying group to promote its agenda in British Columbia. It seems to this hickster in the sticks that Mr. Broe and Mister Campbell are just two birds of a feather flocking together to line their nests even plusher than they already have been lined.

An Affiliate of the Broe Group, OmniTRAX ™ also has the unique capability of offering customers specialized industrial development and real estate opportunities, both on and off the OmniTRAX ™ rail network


Blogger Gazetteer said...

Thanks very much for bringing this to our attention Koot.

I'd missed it.

It's an important story.



Wednesday, July 22, 2009 at 4:30:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous Leah said...

Excellent commentary Koot, he's someone I've been watching for in the land developers heaven called BC.

In particular, I think we need to watch for the names; Pat Broe, Gary Rennick and Dwight Johnson. With the heat on the government as it is at the moment, it will be interesting to see which (if any) of them appear with a smile on their face - and their developers hand in taxpayers pockets. So to speak. It seems that taxpayers pay more for the development of the lands around here than those who bought *cough* the land!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009 at 8:27:00 PM PDT  
Blogger G West said...

been doing a little digging into this Broe fella too koot - seems he's a bit of a buddy of Pee Wee's too:

And, apparently he's not keen about the media and doesn't care much about his employees either...he did get an honourary degree from the University of Winnipeg though.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009 at 9:19:00 PM PDT  
Blogger BC Mary said...

Has anyone seen Parick Broe in Vancouver or Victoria lately?

Has Gordo been to Denver, Colorado lately?

Or maybe the two of them met at Dick Cheney's house.

Good work, Koot.

Friday, July 24, 2009 at 11:36:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

as to Omintrax keeping their hands on the real estate, so too thought Gordon Campbell when he was the boss at Marathon Realty... in Vancouver.

It took the First Nation People to step and lay the law down in the rest of the province AND the City of Vancouver regarding THEIR Arbutus Corridor.

Sunday, September 13, 2009 at 9:48:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

[ ... ] link is being shared on Twitter right now. @zenx, an influential author, said RT @1ndus: Xtreme [ ... ]

Monday, March 1, 2010 at 10:58:00 PM PST  

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