An Amtrak passenger train rolls along White Rock's waterfront.

Councillor derides White Rock rail-safety responses

Coun. Larry Robinson also wants the city to clarify its legal responsibilities regarding the waterfront train tracks.

In the wake of “a great deal of controversy” surrounding pedestrian safety on White Rock’s train tracks, one politician is calling for the city to clarify its legal responsibilities.

In making the suggestion during Monday’s council meeting, Coun. Larry Robinson said a letter received from Transport Canada asking for a review of the city’s whistle-cessation arrangement “may imply the duty of care has shifted.”

“It seems that the onus has been shifted by Transport Canada to municipalities” and BNSF, he said, adding that the statements “may be leaving us vulnerable.”

The Sept. 6 letter asks that the city and BNSF undertake “a comprehensive safety review of the crossings currently granted whistle cessation.”

The request came seven weeks after White Rock jogger Anita Lewis was killed as she attempted to run across Marine Drive tracks.

In a Tuesday email, Robinson criticized  as “irresponsibly misplaced” statements by Mayor Wayne Baldwin, by fellow councillors and in a Peace Arch News editorial regarding the request for safety measures.

Baldwin has said he “will resist, fully” any dramatic changes to the waterfront, including fencing and signal arms; Monday, Couns. Al Campbell and Grant Meyer voiced similar opposition.

“There’s no way I would go silently into the night if that was attempted,” Meyer said, referring to new fencing or railing.

Campbell said the city would be “devastated” if there were too many changes; PAN’s Tuesday editorial states that responsibility for safety does not rest solely on individuals or any one agency, but is shared amongst them all.

Robinson said he is supportive of preventative safety steps beside and crossing the rail line.

“This is not an adversarial situation against unseen bureaucrats in Ottawa. This is not about the city choosing its victims to justify inaction. This is about the City of White Rock collaborating with BNSF and Transport Canada to provide a safer environment for a sadly predictable and uniquely dangerous rail and citizen environment.”

 

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