New Westminster rail noise decision could take three months

New Westminster residents looking to rid the Quayside neighbourhood of late-night rail noise and vibrations descended upon the Federal Court of Appeal in downtown Vancouver on Tuesday.

New Westminster residents looking to rid the Quayside neighbourhood of late-night rail noise and vibrations descended upon the Federal Court of Appeal in downtown Vancouver on Tuesday.

But they may have to wait up to three months for any relief, as a three-judge panel decides the case.

About a dozen locals watched lawyers representing railway companies and the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) make arguments before a panel of judges about whether the CTA has the authority to reopen a 2008 agreement between the Quayside Community Board and the railways operating in New Westminster.

QCB president James Crosty said the case not only affects the city, but will have repercussions across the country as well.

“We’re told a couple of dozen communities are awaiting results on this,” Crosty said. “This is the first time the CTA has been questioned about its ability to rule against rail companies.”

QCB rail noise committee chairman Brian Allen said the judges’ decision would have significant ramifications for the government as well.

“The ruling that comes out of this will impact every single government agency department that has a public complaints mediation process,” he said.

Allen said the QCB was satisfied with the original 2008 agreement the CTA helped broker between the railway companies and the community board.

The agreement called for Canadian Pacific Railway, Canadian National Railway, BNSF Railway and Southern Railway to reduce noise to a reasonable level in the evening and maintain a phone line for complaints. The rail companies have not honoured a number of conditions of the mediated settlement, according to Allen.

“We didn’t see it as a conflict. We saw it as an opportunity for them to make [it] right… and they didn’t,” Allen said. “So because they didn’t, we filed another complaint.”

He said a confidentiality agreement prevents him and Crosty from speaking about most of the other alleged breaches of the 2008 mediated settlement.

Richard DeFilippi, counsel for the railway companies, told the three-judge panel that the mediated settlement was binding and the CTA—a quasi-judicial administrative tribunal—does not have the mandate to revisit the matter.

“That agreement had been resolved by the parties themselves and there was no need or ability on the part of the [CTA] to reopen that dispute and give its own views, or its own determination, or its own adjudication of that dispute because it had already been resolved or settled in 2008,” DeFilippi told the NewsLeader.

CTA lawyer John Dodsworth argued that the 2008 agreement was never a legally binding contract since the rail companies did not file it with the CTA in order to make it a valid consent agreement.

Crosty said he was “cautiously optimistic” about the outcome of the court proceedings. He said the ultimate goal is for the CTA to establish a period between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. when trains are not permitted to engage in coupling, decoupling or shunting.

“They could still be able to go through, but they can’t exchange cars and create that noise and vibration that happens when you slam cars together,” Crosty said.

The panel of judges is expected to issue its decision in about three months, but Allen said he would love to see a ruling within 30 days.

“I think it’s a pretty cut and dry case and the rail companies are grasping at straws,” Allen said.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Police on the scene of a homicide in South Surrey’s Morgan Heights neighbourhood earlier this month. (Tracy Holmes photo)
Crime Stoppers received more than 500 tips related to gang activity in 2020: report

Metro Vancouver organization “urging local residents to keep providing anonymous tips”

In 2017, a member of the Disneyana Fan Club curated a small Community Treasures exhibit at the Museum of Surrey about the early days of Disney and the cartoonist Walt Disney. The museum is now accepting applications for its 2022 Community Treasures exhibition. (Photo: Submitted)
Museum of Surrey wants to spotlight local organizations and clubs

Museum now accepting applications for its 2022 Community Treasures exhibit

The cover of Golf 101 with Bob Dimpleton (left), an instructional book created by South Surrey golf pro Mark Kuhn (inset). Right, a page from the book detailing what to do if your ball lands on the cart path. (Contributed images)
South Surrey golf pro releases new edition of popular instructional book

Mark Kuhn’s Dimpleton family returns in updated Golf 101 e-book

An electric vehicle charging station in front of Hope’s municipal hall, district hall. (Photo: Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)
40 electric vehicle charging stations planned for Surrey

Funding coming from all three levels of government

Musician Dana Vande is seen in a screenshot from a music video on Youtube. Vande recently released a pro-lockdown track in response to an Eric Clapton and Van Morrison anti-lockdown track.
Cloverdale musician writes pandemic response song to Van Morrison and Eric Clapton

Dana Vande answers a Clapton-Morrison anti-lockdown track with a pro-lockdown track

B.C. Representative for Children and Youth Jennifer Charlesworth (Black Press files)
B.C. watchdog says mentally ill children and youth retraumatized in hospital

The number of children held under the Mental Health Act has increased an alarming 162 per cent in past decade

People wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 walk past a window display at a store in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, December 13, 2020. The association representing businesses across Metro Vancouver says the costs of COVID-19 continue to mount for its members.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Greater Vancouver business organization says members face uncertain outlook in 2021

Many Greater Vancouver businesses are barely treading water as they enter 2021

A new video from NCCIH and BC Northern Health titled ‘Healing in Pandemic Times: Indigenous Peoples, Stigma and COVID-19’ was animated by Joanne Gervais. (Photo Provided By: NCCIH Archives)
VIDEO: Stigma against Indigenous people is a ‘social sickness’

A new short animated video is aiming to educate the public on the stigmatization

A pinniped was attacked by an unseen predator off the shores of Dallas Road Monday night. (Courtesy of Steffani Cameron)
VIDEO: Seal hunting, not being hunted in video shot off Victoria waterfront

Victoria woman captures footage of pinniped activity off Dallas Road

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau vows to keep up the fight to sway U.S. on merits of Keystone XL pipeline

Canada’s pitch to the Biden team has framed Keystone XL as a more environmentally friendly project than original

The British Columbia Hotel Association (BCHA) sent out a sharply worded release late last week, in which it noted that the Tourism Industry Association of BC recently obtained a ‘legal opinion’ on the matter (Alex Passini photo)
Hotel associations push back against any potential ban on inter-provincial, non-essential travel restrictions

B.C. Premier John Horgan is seeking legal advice on banning non-essential travel

Abbotsford’s Canwest Aero Inc. is offering two pilot training scholarships to celebrate the company’s opening at the Abbotsford International Airport
Abbotsford aviation company offering two free pilot scholarships

Canwest Aero Inc. giving away pair of scholarships valued at $2,500 each

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
COVID rapid tests in long-term care key during vaccine rollout: B.C. care providers

‘Getting kits into the hands of care providers should be a top priority,’ says former Health Minister

Most Read