For years, elected officials have vowed to work to relocate the Peninsula’s waterfront train tracks. Here, readers have their say. Tracy Holmes photo

For years, elected officials have vowed to work to relocate the Peninsula’s waterfront train tracks. Here, readers have their say. Tracy Holmes photo

LETTERS: Local commotion on the waterfront

PAN readers respond to our request for brief comment on the future of rail traffic on our waterfront

In a special version of our Question of the Week, Peace Arch News asked readers to send in their brief thoughts (up to 50 words) on the future of rail traffic along the South Surrey/White Rock waterfront.

We were inundated. Here are a few of their condensed responses:

A peaceful world should not have trains running along White Rock’s waterfront because: the city is no longer a scarcely populated cottage town; the cargo travelling the tracks is no longer harmless; the decibel levels of the frequent and continuous whistles have become excruciatingly painful to the body’s nervous system.

Lucille Lewis, White Rock

The cost of moving the railway tracks away from the waterfront is absolutely staggering so I do not support this initiative.

D.L. Clarke, White Rock

I have a deep love for our boardwalk. What a brilliant decision years back to widen and extend it. We can continue this success by removing the railway and broadening and extending the boardwalk all the way to the ferry. We could create another Stanley Park boardwalk in our community.

Nancy Shewfelt, White Rock

Our elected officials may say they will work to relocate the train, but it’s not our train. We sold it. The best we can hope for is that our government disallows the shipment of U.S. thermal coal from our ports. That, in turn, would reduce usage of the rail line.

Pat Brealey, Surrey

The length and weight of these trains create vibrations on the hillside. That they travel along a narrow slip of unstable land, carrying dangerous substances, should be of utmost concern. They may have preceded most of us, but time is now past to have an active railway on our shores.

Susan Mueller, White Rock

I’ve been here since ’64, swimming, beach fires, fishing, taking the train. A candidate in ’72 said he’d get rid of the track. Never understood this negativity. You choose to live here; accept what’s here. Our politicians jump on the bandwagon to get rid of the train. Who’ll pay?

Cory Paige, Surrey

Relocating rail traffic is imperative. Transporting hazardous material by rail is a health hazard. Derailments caused by frequent slides may lead to contamination. Pedestrians have been killed by trains in this congested area. A safe route can be located inland. Constant train whistles take away from our beautiful recreational area.

Bob Berger, White Rock

Relocating BNSF tracks simply isn’t feasible. Doing so would create problems elsewhere. And who would foot the enormous cost? With Marine Drive in dire need of revitalization, having a train stop should be a “no brainer.” Sadly, those tasked with making such a decision lack one vital requirement – “brains.”

Monica O’Keeffe, Surrey

Replace rail line with sea wall! As residents of Crescent Heights, we’ve often travelled to Vancouver to enjoy the sea wall. A Crescent Beach to White Rock sea wall in place of the rail line would be a huge attraction and economic boost for both White Rock and Crescent Beach.

Rick Genovese, Surrey

I have seen locals and tourists enjoy the varieties of trains rumbling along the waterfront. Seattle has the “Big Wheel” on their waterfront; maybe we could get one. We should celebrate the trains and create positive advertising – “train watching” signs, train murals and Train Days could help.

Udo Zirkwitz, Cloverdale

Great concern regarding business failures along Marine Drive could be greatly alleviated by relocation of tracks. There is no great pleasure in spending money on parking, food and drinks, with the view of the beach blocked. We have an existing freeway corridor for transportation. The track could follow that corridor.

D. Cyr, White Rock

The railway was built in 1907 to ship goods, move people, provide access to White Rock beach and support development. Communities grow near railways. 100 years later, a group at great expense wants everyone to pay to move the railway to someone else’s backyard where it will impact more people.

Rick Schroeder, Surrey

BNSF carrying dangerous goods. Human error creating rail disasters, loss of life. Rising oceans, storm surges eating away the rail bed. Slides, curving rails slowing BNSF. Conclusion: in the best interests of stakeholders – citizens, biodiversity, first responders, BNSF, our trade-based economy – move the tracks away from the ocean.

Margot Thomson, Surrey

Trains are political. Promises to move the tracks are just that – promises, not reality. But U.S. thermal coal is getting a free ride. B.C. metallurgical coal companies must pay carbon tax – every 100 cars, $45,000. Why does our government not collect tax or levies on U.S. coal? Donations?

Vicki Pauze, White Rock

We moved here 19 years ago and lived on Marine Drive for a year. Because of the trains, we relocated to South Surrey. The trains should be relocated for safety, tourism and people’s health. Relocating them next to Highway 99 is an option, rather than the 176 Street corridor.

Norah Cantin, Surrey

The tracks were constructed in 1909. I have lived in White Rock since 1977, where it was known that the trains pass by regularly along the beach. Everyone seemed aware of their surroundings and were accountable for their safety. I accept this. If not, I would move!

G. J. Sales, Surrey

I have lived directly across the street from the train tracks in Crescent Beach all my life, and they need to go. Some trains are so heavy and so fast that we can feel it shaking the house, and if there’s a derailment, most of the community will be trapped.

Robyn Sundar, Surrey

The Keene family has been here since the early 1920s. We consider trains part of White Rock life. Removing the trains is a ‘political football’ that has no bearing in reality. Look at the millions BNSF spent in Mud Bay and in Crescent Beach. Let’s get on with more realistic tasks.

Dave Keene, Surrey

Run a rail tunnel from near the First Nation under White Rock and South Surrey. Put an overpass on Crescent Road and connect to BNSF causeway over Mud Bay. This will also solve Crescent Beach ambulance and bus delays. White Rock can then get its beach back.

Keith Allen, Surrey

Last year, BNSF completed the replacement of the wooden trestle with a concrete one across the Serpentine and Nicomekl rivers at a cost of $15 million. I would be very surprised if the railway would soon abandon it without being compensated for the expenditure.

Ken Daly, Surrey

Railway relocation will: Increase flow of goods to B.C. ports and benefit the economy; Facilitate unfettered access to the beach; Protect residents from accidents, noise and coal-dust pollution; Revitalize city waterfront; Eliminate risks of Lac-Mégantic-like catastrophies; Create more recreational opportunities.

Keith Knightson, White Rock

I would have to agree with the people that think it is a pipedream to remove the train from the waterfront. I do think the passenger train stop would be a great addition to White Rock.

Barry Carter, Surrey

BNSF has a rail line through Abbotsford that joins the mainline heading to the coal terminal. The only cost to relocate is to buy out BNSF land along the beach. Imagine a biking/hiking trail from the border to Tsawwassen.

Floyd Smith, Surrey

Every time I hear or read about people complain about the trains in White Rock/South Surrey, my ‘dander’ gets up. It’s time those people shut up about the subject. The trains were there before they were and they agreed to live where they are. If you don’t like it, move!

Wayne Wilkie, Surrey

The rail corridor on Boundary Bay denies​ everyone north and south of the Fraser from the best 15 km of south-facing ocean foreshore in B.C. Imagine a green super-path opening the beaches of White Rock to the Delta Dyke, the new Massey bridge, the Arbutus corridor and Stanley Park.

Monica Foerster, Surrey

Cognitive dissonance pervades those who believe our government will use taxes to relocate the tracks of a foreign-owned railway. An alternative is to go ‘to sea’ where the real-estate is uncluttered. I’m sure engineers would welcome the challenge of building a low-level bridge to connect Blaine with Mud Bay trestle.

John Bliss, White Rock

High-speed rail is coming from Portland to Vancouver. A freight line can be twinned with it. Washington has designated money to seriously consider this. Our federal government has loads of infrastructure monies – cannot see a more worthy cause than protecting our people and coastline from a potential, disastrous derailment.

Patricia Kealy, White Rock

Don’t relocate the tracks. Elevate them along the beach as a skytrain. Over time, eliminate the old houses and reduce the number of restaurants. Make this area more beautiful; provide parking and parkland. As it is now, it is not safe; parking is limited; it is an eyesore. Think long-term.

Jan Mason, Surrey

The general public versus big business. Where is the local politician who has the intestinal fortitude and knowledge to challenge the powers that be and have the tracks removed so the public at large may safely enjoy nature’s gifts?

Alan Merrick, White Rock

Hesitant at the junction, will we continue to pursue the hollow hope of a cost prohibitive move, or should we embrace the possibilities of a ready-made opportunity? The new ties laid out along the length of the tracks sound a clear signal.

David Winslow, White Rock

I can save millions of tax dollars in rail-relocation costs by saying you simply “Look, Listen and Live” when crossing the tracks. The picture of the Amtrak on PAN’s Op-Ed page shows its grey and blue paint job blends in with the beach, ocean and sky, creating a camouflaged hazard.

Don Pitcairn, Surrey

I liked it when the Royal Hudson came to town, what a day that was! Unfortunately, most days are not filled with Royal Hudsons, only dangerous goods trains and plenty of them. I say continue with the exercise of rail relocation but have one’s expectations based in reality.

Helen Fathers, White Rock

BNSF’s single rail track travels under an unstable bluff, crosses three rivers, two bird sanctuaries and a hundred year old swing bridge while bisecting two level crossings, three public beaches and a boat launch. Let’s, instead, create a vibrant regional recreational space and BNSF can get a better inland route.

Hannah Newman, White Rock

Connect White Rock, Surrey and Delta along Boundary Bay with a world-class recreation and commuter path that will link us to Richmond, New West and Downtown when the new bridge is built. Give us access to OUR oceanfront, just like Vancouver has with English Bay and Stanley Park!

Erik Seiz, Surrey

Forced to stay away from promenade again, as toxic odor of creosote of replacement rail ties trigger my asthma. Expect four months of odor, as temperatures go up. I wonder about leeching of this chemical through the riprap to the water. Can’t eat either, as wind brings it to cafes.

Pat Petrala, White Rock

Rail News: Wabamum Lake, Alta., 2005 – 700,000 litres of fuel oils, pole-treating oils spilled into lake. Four days later it was revealed that other carcinogens were dumped into this marvellous resort. 2016, lake reopened. Lac Megantic,Que, – 47 died. White Rock, B.C. – What headline do we want?

Susan Potzold, White Rock

1. Buy rail border to north of Highway 99.

2. Use it for commuter rail cars to Sky Train.

3. Province contributes surface right-of-way along Highway 99 median.

4. BNR constructs new surface rail with funds from sale (1).

5. Trains climb excessive grades with jet-pack assist.

6. Pay for (1) with profit from (2).

David Edwards, White Rock