Four optional rail routes presented by the cities of White Rock and Surrey.

EDITORIAL: Get back on the right track

Local politicians need to get on the same page when it comes to potentially moving the railroad tracks off the waterfront.

Elected officials usually have no difficulty finding a political issue and staying on track.

But when it comes to their various proposals to relocate the rail line that’s bordered the Semiahmoo Peninsula waterfront this past century, they’re getting way off course.

Proponents of BNSF relocation – who’ve been raising the spectre of impending disaster increasingly since the 2013 Lac-Mégantic train tragedy in Quebec – say it’s well worth the hundreds of millions of dollars estimated to realign the route inland.

However, the politicians who have backed their plan – at least at various levels in the past – might be causing more harm than good for the communities they serve.

Take Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner, who launched her successful run for the city’s highest office last year by telling Crescent Beach residents that if elected she would immediately engage in discussions with BNSF to have the tracks moved to a more direct, faster, safer route.

Now, as of last week, she says realignment is worthy of consideration, but only if the tracks move underground.

Take White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin, who has made train issues a priority through both of his terms. While he’s been more steadfast on the issue than Hepner, he hasn’t done his proponents any favours by repeatedly provoking railway partners: last year, in open council, he famously referred to a safety inspector as a “petty little bureaucrat”; he oversaw a “permanently closed” gate at the boat launch that was unlocked and abandoned a few days later; and, just last month, he told council that Transport Canada “laid down the law” to BNSF with regards to train-horn blasts in the middle of the night.

None of these apparent ‘miscommunications’ have helped.

Lastly, incoming-MP Dianne Watts launched her federal campaign in South Surrey-White Rock by making rail safety a priority; this after, as Surrey mayor, she long studied the issue and presented to residents four alternate track routes elsewhere in her city.

Now, she says only that rail relocation may be a part of her safety initiative.

While it’s clear all three leaders have their communities’ best interests at heart, we suggest they meet publicly to discuss any realistic options.

Anything less looks rather misdirected.

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

Just Posted

White Rock seeks assistance for park rain damage

City applies for provincial funding following closure of Ruth Johnson Park and ravine

United Nations designates Surrey a ‘Tree City’

Surrey is one of 59 cities in the world to receive the designation

In 2019, roughly one person died every three days in Surrey due to illicit drug overdoses

123 people died in the city in 2019, down from the previous year

BC Liberals firing at NDP due to fact new Surrey hospital not in budget

But Surrey-Panorama MLA Jinny Sims says business case is needed first

Surrey RCMP looking for missing boy, age 14

Brayden Ritchat, 14, last seen in the 10800-block of 141st Street in Whalley on Feb. 21

Protecting privacy key to stopping spread of COVID-19, B.C. health officials say

The number of coronavirus cases in B.C. remains at seven

Toffoli scores OT winner as Canucks beat Habs 4-3

Demko makes 37 saves for Vancouver

Private clinics would harm ‘ordinary’ people using public system in B.C.: lawyer

Health Minister Adrian Dix announced in 2018 that the government would begin to fine doctors $10,000

B.C. terminates contract with hospice society refusing assisted death

Delta Hospice Society loses hospital service fund of $1.5 million

Child in hospital following fatal crash that killed father, sibling on B.C. highway

The single vehicle crash occured near Kamloops on Highway 5A

‘Die!’: Vernon councillor mailed death threat

This story contains information that might be sensitive to some readers

B.C. landlord can’t serve eviction notice because tenant is in jail

Homeowner baffled at arbitrator decision based on notice of hearing not being served properly

Hidden message connects Castlegar homeowners decades apart

The Rodgers family was surprised when a message fell out of the walls as they were renovating

Most Read

l -->