What's on this page

↓ Current status
↓ Current issue
↓ Ongoing concerns
↓ Current legal proceedings
↓ Environmental Assessment Decision Statement
↓ Milestones
↓ Regulations and requirements

The Canadian National Railway Company (CN) proposed to create a $250-million logistics hub next to its main line in Milton. Since the start of the proposal in 2015, our goal has been to make certain community interests and plans for the community are heard, and the Town, Halton Region, and the other Halton municipalities have been opposed to the project as a result of the significant adverse effects it will cause to human health and the environment.

The location for the project is within one kilometre of approximately 34,000 current and future residents, one hospital, twelve schools and two long-term care homes, and the facility will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week—resulting in at least 1,600 new trips to and from the facility each day by heavy-duty container trucks. 

The hub would be built on CN-owned land (400 acres) in the southwest urban area of Milton. It would border:

  • Tremaine Road to the west
  • Britannia Road to the north
  • Lower Base Line to the south
  • Highway 25 to the east

The use of the land for this area is not suitable and does not align with Milton’s or Halton’s Official Plan, or existing zoning.

Current status

The Town and Halton municipalities are in three separate legal actions challenging CN’s project.

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) was granted intervener status on Oct. 6, 2023, in the Ontario Court of Appeal to be heard Nov. 20 and 21, 2023, between the Halton Municipalities and CN. 

FCM participation brings a national lens on the interpretation and application of local laws. We continue to demand CN comply with our local laws that protect your health and environment. 

Read more about the current legal proceedings.

Current issue

June 2023 - CN Closure of Lower Base Line without Town Approvals

CN is proposing to construct a grade separation (road under rail) starting as early as July 4, 2023. The grade separation will separate CN’s existing and new railway tracks from Lower Base Line by creating a railway bridge over a road underpass. In order to construct this new crossing, CN intends to close Lower Base Line for approximately 2 years.

CN has posted signage that refers to this upcoming road closure as lasting for two years. It has also distributed a flyer notifying residents of CN’s closure plan referring to a ‘mainline track realignment’ (Notice of Lower Base Line Closure July 2023).

CN has no approvals from the Town to alter a Town road allowance or close this local road.  There is no Town agreement with CN on any new project construction or the related road closure. Milton has repeatedly told CN that they are in breach of Milton by-laws.  CN is proceeding at its own risk.

The Town and Halton municipalities are before the Ontario Court of Appeal and Federal Court of Appeal regarding CN’s requirement to follow and abide by local laws. All other private developers would be required to follow the required local laws.

The Town is also monitoring CN’s activities, and notes that residents can share information directly with the Town related to any specific concerns of non-compliance with Town by-laws.

Ongoing concerns

The Town, along with the other Halton municipalities’, remains concerned due to a number of issues.

Human and environmental health

  • The most important reason is that according to the Federal Environmental Panel that studied the CN proposal, the hub will cause significant harm to human health that cannot be mitigated
  • The site’s emissions, discharge of storm water, use of water and changes to the watercourse would impact our environment
  • It will cause significant harm to air quality and human health for more than 34,000 people who will reside within one km of the proposal site

Constitutional matters

  • With all CN intermodal matters since early 2015, CN does not acknowledge any Town by-laws, requirements or approvals. There is no legal precedent or basis for any exemption to local laws
  • This particular project contravenes over 65 provincial and municipal by-laws – rules which any other resident or developer would be required by law to have to comply with
  • The Town, along with the other Halton municipalities and Conservation Halton, have sought legal interventions on this matter

Traffic congestion

  • As the hub will run 24 hours a day and seven days a week, there would be 1,600 truck trips to and from the site each day
  • This would lead to more traffic on roads, which would increase as the site’s capacity grows
  • This traffic congestion poses a risk to motorist, cyclist and pedestrian safety


  • CN’s current proposal will deliver only 1/20th of the jobs it promised
  • Considering all jobs, CN’s proposal is forecast to result in approximately 6,600 fewer permanent jobs in the Southwest Milton Employment area

Current legal proceedings

Milton continues to work with all Halton Municipalities on three separate legal actions challenging CN’s project in 2023. All of these court proceedings are scheduled for 2023.

Ontario Court of Appeal

Intent: The Town and Halton municipalities initially went to an Ontario court in 2018 to obtain legal clarity on jurisdiction matters. Unfortunately, the first court hearing was delayed until last year (June 2022) due to other approval matters before the federal government.

Initial decision: The first Ontario court decision failed to provide any legal clarity. As a result, the Town and Halton municipalities appealed the decision and are now in court at the Ontario Court of Appeal to obtain clarity on what Town by-laws, requirements and approvals apply to CN.

Next steps: There will be a hearing before this Court later this year (2023) in the fall

Federal Court 

Proceeding #1: Federal Court of Appeal – CN requires federal approval for all new railway lines, including lines that cross Lower Base Line road. The Town and all Halton authorities are challenging this approval on the basis that the Canadian Transportation Agency understated the unprecedented significance of this Project’s effects on air quality and human health and thereby also failed properly consider the interests of the localities affected by the Project

  • Intent: That federal regulators properly identify and respect the seriousness of this Project’s effects on residents
  • Hearing occurred before the Federal Court of Appeal on June 7, 2023. Awaiting a decision.

Proceeding #2: Federal Court – The entire CN project requires federal environmental assessment approval from the Minister and Cabinet. The Town and all Halton municipalities seek to overturn the decision by the Federal Minister and Cabinet to approve CN’s project because the Minister and Cabinet ignored the Panel conclusion that the Project will cause significant adverse effects on human health, and thereby understated what was at stake in assessing whether the project was “justified”.

Next steps: Hearing is scheduled before the Federal Court in December 2023

Environmental Assessment Decision Statement

Impact Assessment Agency of Canada - The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency Joint Review Panel completed its assessment and submitted the Environmental Assessment Report to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change. The Decision Statement was extended on two occasions until a final decision on Jan. 21, 2021. 

  • Dec. 4, 2020 - The Town of Milton, all Halton municipalities and Halton Region, oppose this project. Read the most recent Statement from Halton Regional Chair and Halton Mayors on the CN Truck-Rail Hub
  • Dec. 21, 2020 - The Impact Assessment Agency of Canada posted a notice on its website, indicating that the Governor in Council has extended the time limit for a decision on CN’s proposal for a truck-rail hub in Milton by 30 days. For more information, read the news release.
  • Jan. 13, 2021 - The Halton Municipalities sent a letter to the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, urging Federal Cabinet to include a recent ruling in the UK in their assessment of CN’s proposed truck-rail hub and not approve this project. For more information, read the full news release.
  • Jan. 21, 2021 – Decision Statement issued.
    • The Minister of Environment and Climate Change issued the Environmental Assessment Decision Statement to the proponent (CN) indicating determined that the Milton Logistics Hub Project is not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects referred to in subsection 5(1) of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012. A number of conditions are included in the Decision Statement that CN must comply with. 
    • The Town remains concerned and extremely disappointed that the Federal Government has ignored risks to the health and safety of Halton residents first and approved the CN truck-rail hub in Milton


As a result of the January 2021 decision, the following milestones have occurred to date:

  • While this Federal decision is essential for CN to move forward with the project in Milton, it fails to address the serious concerns of the Halton Municipalities, Conservation Halton, and 34,000 residents living near the CN lands in Milton regarding the project’s significant adverse environmental effects – impacts confirmed by the Federal Government’s own environmental assessment review panel. The Halton Municipalities and Conservation Halton are reviewing their legal options to challenge the CTA’s decision under federal and provincial laws.
  • May 25, 2022 – CN construction activity on the project site. CN had no approval from any local or regional authority to carry out any activity at its site and the Town communicated to CN to reiterate that any current activity on site is at CN’s risk.
    • A court hearing is scheduled to begin May 30, 2022, in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice to clarify the constitutional powers of the Town of Milton, Halton Region, and Conservation Halton over CN’s current activities.
    • The Town of Milton has been clear that CN should not be able to bypass our municipal laws, which are in place to protect the health and well-being of those who will be most affected by the project
  • Aug. 12, 2022 - The Ontario Superior Court of Justice released its decision in a case between the Halton Municipalities and Conservation Halton (the “Halton Municipalities”) and CN related to CN’s proposed Intermodal facility in Milton.
    • Ontario Court's Decision
    • Halton Municipalities News Release Aug. 12, 2022
    • The Court decision flatly rejected CN’s claim that as a federally regulated rail project, it was immune from over 65 provincial and local laws designed to protect people and the environment from adverse and harmful impacts that would be caused by the facility. While the decision did not grant the Halton Municipalities request for an immediate injunction, it did leave open the door for future activity by the Halton Municipalities to continue to enforce their laws in the public interest.
    • The Halton Municipalities will continue to review the Ontario Superior Court decision and consider its options. In addition, the Halton Municipalities are continuing litigation in the Federal Courts to review decisions by the Canadian Transportation Agency, the Federal Minister and Cabinet to approve federal aspects of the CN Project.
  • July 26, 2022 – The Minister of Environment and Climate Change issued an amended Environmental Assessment Decision Statement to CN. The Analysis Report describes the amendments made to the Decision Statement.
    • Since the issuance of the Decision Statement, CN informed the Agency of proposed changes to the project. The Agency conducted an analysis of the proposed Project changes and the potential adverse environmental effects of those changes on:
      • whether the changes constitute a new or different designated project that may require a new impact assessment; and
      • whether any changes (including addition or removal) may be required to the mitigation measures and follow-up requirements included as conditions in the Decision Statement to address the proposed project changes
  • Sept. 9, 2022 - The Halton Municipalities and Conservation Halton (the “Halton Municipalities”) filed an appeal of the August 10, 2022 decision of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in a case between the Halton Municipalities and CN related to CN’s proposed truck-rail hub in Milton.
    • The Court decision left it to the Halton Municipalities and Conservation Halton to take the necessary steps to enforce the more than 65 local and provincial laws that apply to this proposed hub instead of supporting a more comprehensive and effective approach through Ontario’s planning system.
    • The Halton Municipalities and Conservation Halton strongly disagree with this decision and are bringing this appeal forward to seek to correct several key errors, including fundamental mistakes about Ontario’s land use planning system that should concern all municipalities and the Province.

Regulations and requirements

The Federal Government, the Canada Transportation Act and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act regulates and identifies requirements for the type and construction of railways.

Milton and Halton Region are ensuring that the proposed development is subject to a full regulatory review under the Planning Act, including local and provincial laws and regulations.