Letters to the Editor

LETTERS: Better ways to keep people safe

While the boat launch gate was present for little over a week, more fences are being installed along the tracks. - Tracy Holmes photos
While the boat launch gate was present for little over a week, more fences are being installed along the tracks.
— image credit: Tracy Holmes photos

Editor:

Re: ‘Worst trespassing in the northwest,’ June 19; et al.

Talk about using a sledge hammer to kill a gnat.

Who is the genius that shuts down the one attraction to a town when there are so many alternatives available?

Let’s go and visit White Rock and feel like we are in prison behind a huge wire-link fence! House prices will fall, businesses will close along the waterfront.

The Lower Mainland is not gifted with seaside resorts.

Everyone agrees there are fools in the world, but signs saying $2,000-fines for loitering on the track would have served the purpose; or a guard patrolling the promenade.

Perhaps it has nothing to do with the status quo. Perhaps the proposition to run seven-mile-long coal trains through White Rock every day is the real hazard?

Donald C. Chivers, White Rock

• • •

Train whistles all night long and now fences?

Hasn’t this debate gone on long enough?

I vote these tracks get relocated alongside Highway 99. There’s absolutely no need for trains to be running through heavily congested beach communities like White Rock or Crescent Beach.

Too expensive? OK, has anyone considered low-voltage LED strobe-lights – alongside the tracks, every 25 feet or so – that get triggered to flash when an approaching train is within 500 feet? That way, anyone walking the tracks will easily – and quietly – be alerted by bright strobe lights, regardless of headphones or hearing impairments.

No need for ugly fences or waking residents every hour.

How many lives could have been saved with such an easy solution?

Joe Klampfer, Surrey

• • •

The number of serious accidents that have occurred on the railway tracks in White Rock is miniscule, compared to those suffered by pedestrians on the streets.

Because people have been killed or seriously injured while walking on or beside the road, should we now fence off all roads and highways? Of course not.

If anyone was to suggest such a move they would be ridiculed and laughed at by Transport Canada.

Yes, it’s sad, but people will get killed and injured, wherever they fail to pay attention to obvious danger.

W. Al Riede, Surrey

• • •

BNSF installed a fence west of the promenade last week.Too many people have it wrong.

The community of White Rock started out, many many years ago next to the beautiful Semiahmoo Bay.

Dare I point out, the railway line was also there, right alongside the beach? White Rock was, in fact, a sleepy little seaside train station. People travelling in the trains noticed how beautiful the area was. Over the years, White Rock Station became more known as a little seaside resort, and people flocked there to vacation or simply to enjoy the ocean and sun.

But always – always – taking note, taking care that to get to the beach they had to clamber over the railway tracks.

Everybody accepted the trains; the area was, after all, a station first and foremost.

Then the developers got wind of its popularity and started to build houses en masse, and people didn’t just visit, they moved right in.

In the flurry of getting down to the beach, in the hurry to move to prestigious White Rock, in the scurry to build yet more homes, people have come to resent the railway tracks and the massive, potentially deadly trains they transport.

Get rid of it, they say. We don’t want the coal, they say. We don’t want the horns, they say. We don’t want to be bothered to have to clamber over the tracks to get to the beach, they say.

And look what has happened: Advertise the beach, not the trains. Look at the lovely lapping ocean, not where you’re walking. Live in the houses, hate the horns.

Many years ago, people rode around in cars with their kids in the backseat and there were no seatbelts. Very dangerous. But thankfully, the people took notice and demanded more safety. Nowadays, people don’t get in a car without buckling up.

Face the facts, people. Trains are dangerous. How unconscionable not to have a fence to protect the people.

What were the developers and the townspeople thinking? A fence should have been built many years ago, to accommodate the growth of a sleepy little seaside train station and all the people who need to be kept safe.

The fence should be hailed, just like seatbelts.

Daya Hunter, White Rock

• • •

Forty years ago I took up residence in White Rock at the same time as other young families settled in White Rock and South Surrey. The Baldwin family was one young family who we met at that time.

Wayne Baldwin has given many years as White Rock city CAO and now as “Our City by the Sea” mayor. While Wayne is well-known in these roles, what most residents do not know about is the endless hours of volunteer time both Jane and Wayne have contributed toward our community over the years.

Initially we lived one block from East Beach and, as our family grew, we spent many enjoyable visits to the beach. Trains would only come by two or three times a day, several hours apart and with only up to 40 assorted train cars. Now they come by as often as 15 minutes apart and at times with 100 or more train cars. The lengthier trains block off East and West Beach at the same time.

Ever since the lengthy coal trains started to pass through Canada to a Canadian port, all Canadians are suffering the consequences, not just the residents of White Rock.

“Our City by the Sea” mayor and councillors are being unfairly blamed by a few for the shambles brought to our beachside community. They were voted into office by the majority of the citizens of White Rock, and with our support, will continue to do their utmost to resolve the issues.

Bill Iley, White Rock

• • •

Transport Canada claims to have our safety in mind by fencing up parts of beach access.

They seem to have no problem allowing the transport of highly flammable propane gases along our waterfront. They also allow 16-20 coal trains 120 cars long transporting thermal coal, sending up an estimated 500 pounds of toxic dust.

Their hypocrisy is staggering.

Do we really need to have the conductors blowing their horns disturbing everyone’s peace and quiet? As a 13-year resident, I can remember when incessant whistle blowing was cause for a legitimate complaint to the company.

It is hard not to believe that the beauty and charm of White Rock is being taken away from us. Maybe it is time to take it back.

David Gold, White Rock

• • •

‘Common sense’ in California. In a recent trip to Santa Barbara, Calif., we walked to the end of the pier – no railings, only a sign warning of the danger.

Common sense dictates to watch out for the hazard once you have been warned. This is an example of how things are done elsewhere and work.

I have travelled to Europe and Asia and seen the same examples of danger warnings.

Our railway fencing is an embarrassment to our intelligence. It is only in Canada – and seems more so in B.C. – that we make government responsible for our own lack of common sense and responsibility in caring for our own safety. Time to wake up and make people more responsible for their own actions.

Chris Johnstone, White Rock

• • •

I agree with letter-writers Gunilla Lindgren, Krystene Harvey and the myriads of others raising voices to stop the fencing of White Rock’s beach (White Rock railing over orders, June 19).

It will surprise no one that things ‘were’ looking pretty positive for the future of White Rock, “the Riviera of Canada.” What surprises us is the abnormal thinking of those who, under the pretense of keeping people safe, are desecrating the waterfront.

What are they really thinking?

Canadian to the core, I’ve travelled on six continents, some extensively. I’ve lived three years in Europe, two in New Zealand. Nowhere have I encountered such nonsense.

Next thing we know, they will be closing all Canadian transportation arteries, including air corridors, because people get killed on them.

Seems to me like a false flag action just to see how far people can be pushed.

Might be a good idea to clip it now, be derailed in its tracks by the ordinary folks, if our elected ones aren’t up for the job.

I think we’re smarter than we’re given credit for being.

What do the rest of you think?

Frances Allden, White Rock

• • •

For sale.

Black fence and gate. One-of-a-kind 2014 model, hardly used and only locked once. Would suit short-sighted local authority intending to make the news for all the wrong reasons while offending the electorate and Transport Canada officials alike.

Purchaser to take away.

Call Wayne to discuss before the fall of 2014.

David Hutchinson, Surrey

 

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