Semiahmoo Peninsula rail relocation effort refocused

Advocates launch a website, strive to inform residents on process

A group of proponents for rail relocation on the Semiahmoo Peninsula have refocused their approach, starting from the ground up.

Craig Harrold launched a website, railrelocation.ca, that highlights the arguments for rail relocation as well as a source of information for people to learn about the status of the movement.

Harrold and railway relocation advocate Erik Seiz met with Peace Arch News last week to discuss the website and explain how their effort is evolving.

Seiz suggested that attention on rail relocation picks up during election campaigns or shortly after an election, only to fade away again.

“What’s really important for a vision like this is that it needs a place where it is able to live for longer than the duration of any government,” Seiz said. “The railway loves it, because they just need to ride it out until the next guy is gone.”

“Governance is just another one of those things that you can’t necessarily rely on the current structure to bring about the change that you want.”

Rail relocation has been a political issue in South Surrey and White Rock for decades. Harrold said he has a friend who witnessed W.A.C. Bennett (B.C. premier from 1952-1972) throw his fist in the air while standing on Crescent Beach and proclaiming: “We’re going to get this railway moved for you.”

The movement gained traction following the tragic derailment in Lac Lac-Mégantic, Que. in 2013. That same year, Dianne Watts Wayne Baldwin – mayors of Surrey and White Rock respectively, at the time – hosted a standing-room-only forum that presented four proposed routes for realigning the railway that currently follows the shoreline along White Rock and through Crescent Beach.

RELATED: Mayors probe moving White Rock, South Surrey train tracks inland

“We want to say to the people of the Peninsula, here’s all of the information (on the website). We’ve assembled everything we can possibly think of. The biggest thing is the present situation, this is where we’re at right now and what we are going to do about it. What’s the next step? The next step is the alignment study,” Harrold said.

Approximately $900,000 is required for the study and the money has not yet been secured. Surrey transportation manager Jaime Boan told PAN in 2017 that historically, projects like this are funded one-third provincially, one-third federally and one-third locally.

The split for local funding for the study, as suggested by Surrey in 2017, would call for $75,000 from White Rock and $225,000 from Surrey.

RELATED: White Rock rail forum leads to renewed calls for relocation

The B.C. government and federal government have not made any commitments.

Starting next year, Harrold says, he will implement a private donation feature on the website, which will allow Peninsula residents to chip in to help pay for the feasibility study.

“The people of the Peninsula are going to contribute to making this happen,” Harrold said.

RELATED: Relocation study not included in money for infrastructure improvements

Seiz said that it might take a disaster to prompt more swift action on rail relocation.

“You put in a crosswalk because enough people died at an intersection. That’s just how it works,” Seiz said. “That may well be how it plays out here, too. But regardless, I think there’s still value in building up a body of knowledge so at a point in time in the future, there’s at least some stuff there you can work with.”



aaron.hinks@peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

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

Just Posted

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

PHOTOS: Surrey rally supports Mona Wang, calls for wellness check reform

Security camera footage shows Wang being dragged, stepped on during RCMP wellness check at UBCO

Filming applications ‘coming in slowly’ to the City of Surrey

Netflix cancels ‘Sabrina’, but filming manager says new calls coming in to film in Cloverdale

‘Did anything good come out of my son’s overdose death?’ – South Surrey mom

Maggie Plett says action still needed on recovery homes

COVID-19: Daily update on the pandemic in Surrey, White Rock and beyond

JULY 11: B.C.’s COVID-19 job recovery led by tourism, finance

QUIZ: Are you ready for a summer road trip?

How much do you really know about roads, motor vehicles and car culture? Take this quiz to find out.

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

Sports fishers protest Fraser River Chinook closures

Public Fishery Alliance wants hatchery fish open for harvest

B.C. Ferries increasing passenger capacity after COVID-19 restrictions

Transport Canada 50-per-cent limit being phased out, no current plans to provide masks

Once-in-a-lifetime comet photographed soaring over Abbotsford

Photographer Randy Small captures Comet NEOWISE in early-morning sky

Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

Bringing support to Indigenous students and communities, while fulfilling a dream

Mitacs is a nonprofit organization that operates research and training programs

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Grocers appear before MPs to explain decision to cut pandemic pay

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains have defended their decision to end temporary wage increases

Most Read

l -->