Battle River Railway New Generation Co-operative
A rural community co-operatively innovating to save a way of life*
The decision by CN Railway to close shortline 43.03 between Alliance and Camrose, Alberta in 2003 was an existential threat to the 185 farmers and their families along the line. In 2003, the farmers organized to form the non-profit Battle River Producer Car Group (BRPCG), which facilitated farmers to order up producer cars which CN was obliged to pull due to a clause in the Canada Grain Act, thereby forcing CN Railway to continue operating line 43.03. In 2009, after CN Railway decided to pull out of 43.03 completely despite the Grain Act clause, the BRPCG converted into the Battle River Railway New Generation Cooperative (BRR NGC) and bought out line 43.03 from CN.
The story of the formation of BRPCG and its conversion to the BRR NGC is much more than a story of organizational change and development. It is a story of a community becoming aware of its situation and mobilizing to secure its future, taking on a corporate giant and succeeding along the way. It is a story of farmers overcoming helplessness and re-learning solidarity in order to manage a railway and, in doing so, preserve their towns, communities, and way of life.
*Case study research and writing by Ashish Pillai and Marcelo Vieta (2021)