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Conflict And Struggle

5,000 Miles Of Railway Mileage
To Be Abandoned In West Within Decade, FCL Told

Saskatoon Star Pheonix
January 17, 1962. p.3

A plan, not yet made public, to abandon more than 5,000 miles of railway lines in Western Canada in the next five, 10 or 15 years, would effect co-op expansion plans if implemented, Harry L. Fowler said Tuesday in his presidential report to the 33rd annual meeting of Federated Co-operatives Limited which opened at The Bessborough.

"The railroads are not abandoning the people. Because of economic changes, the people are abandoning the railroads," Mr. Fowler said.

FCL's annual report showed 1962 expansion of retail facilities would cost in the neighborhood of $9,000,000. Most of this expansion would be in towns that would remain permanently on a railway, but modern facilities were being planned in a few places that might not be on a railway in the foreseeable future.

Mr. Fowler said western people would rightly oppose this proposed railroad abandonment, but suggested a better way to accept this challenge.

"The people of Western Canada should present a well-planned design of rural adjustment designed to meet the needs of the people," he said. "Taking all the factors into consideration, the plan should be presented to the railways ot the Board of Transport Commissioners, with the request that the railways comply with this, rather than have the people comply with the railways' plan."

Mr. Fowler was sure such a procedure would be welcomed by the final court - the House of Commons.

Reorganization of local government would be involved in any plan of rural adjustment, Mr. Fowler said.

The county system of local government was operating over a large part of Alberta, but the proposal for a similar system in Saskatchewan was being rigorously opposed.

"Should not the co-operative movement, insofar as it is possible to speak with one voice, support the reorganization of local government?" Mr. Fowler asked. "This support could be given if only for the reason that expansion of the co-operative movement can be more intelligently planned and executed".

The president contended that this expansion could not be intelligently planned unless the organization knew with a reasonable degree of accuracy, what the Prairie provinces would look like after local government reorganization.

Mr. Fowler asked the convention delegates, "would not the theory of approach successfully used to meet a crisis or challenge in the field of economics be equally successful; when applied to rural sociology?"

The word, "planning", was frowned upon in some circles, but Mr. Fowler said it had been the central theme of human society for ages. The question arose: Who should be responsible for planning and for whom?

Should not the planning be "of the people, by the people and for the people?"

In the last 33 years FCL had paid in cash returns to its Saskatchewan, Maitoba and northwest Ontario members (consumer co-ops), a total of more than $14,000,000.