Letter writers question politicians’ support for a study to relocate trains from the South Surrey/White Rock waterfront.

Letter writers question politicians’ support for a study to relocate trains from the South Surrey/White Rock waterfront.

LETTERS: Look at our government inaction

Editor:

Re: Province on board for train relocation, Feb. 10.

Editor:

Re: Province on board for train relocation, Feb. 10.

We must not fall for the placebo that the politicians are offering us: the possible relocation of the BNSF railway.

This would clearly take a lot of money and a lot of time – 20 years in my estimation – while all the consultations, wranglings and agreements take place amongst: BNSF; City of White Rock and other municipal governments; Transport Canada and federal government; B.C. Ministry of Transportation and B.C. governments; Fisheries and Oceans Canada; native bands; ALC; affected private landholders and businesses; environmentalists; ‘stakeholders’ and special-interest groups… and the U.S. governments.

I totally agree with letter-writers Stephen Morris and Jef Keighley, who labelled the relocation pie-in-the-sky and impractical (Tracking our political leadership, Feb. 17).

So, rather than chase this relocation red-herring promoted by our politicians – most blatantly in the financial update sent out with our 2016 tax notice, wherein the mayor assures they are “advocating for rail relocation” – I ask that our city politicians and staff actively pursue and achieve the following do-able thing: complete the eight fully-controlled pedestrian crossings required on the White Rock promenade.

With the completion of these eight crossings – with lights, bells and automatic boom barriers – I understand we could get a total cessation of the whistling, currently at east and west ends of the Promenade and at each crossing, and get a new whistling agreement with BNSF, which would eliminate the god-awful racket we are subjected to all day long and parts of the night. Clanging at crossings would be minimized by using ‘soft-tone’ bells.

The city has funding for the first two crossings but hasn’t been able to reach agreement with BNSF for their contribution. The city has also applied to the federal government for infrastructure grants for the other six and is awaiting word this spring. The total cost for eight crossings is budgeted by the city at $5 million in 2017 and 2018 – 12.5 per cent to be paid by city, providing the balance is covered by grants and/or BNSF participation.

So, this is an achievable, concrete step that we can take to make our lives better in the next two to three years, rather than dreaming of a rail relocation, which may never happen or at least not in the lifetimes of some of us.

Mike Campbell, White Rock

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Sadly, I have to agree with letter-writer Jef Keighley when he says that Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Todd Stone’s expressed support for a study to relocate the BNSF rail route away from the Semiahmoo Peninsula shoreline is nothing more than a sure sign that a provincial election is looming.

I also agree that the “coal-dust-spewing rail line” should be phased out. As citizens of B.C., we are all paying a carbon tax as part of an incentive to reduce greenhouse gases, all the while our government is allowing the shipment of U.S. thermal coal through our communities so that it can be exported from B.C. to Asia. In Asia, it is burned and those hydrocarbon particles pollute our global atmosphere.

Where I strongly disagree with Keighley is his suggested solution of restricting the passage of freight along the line to the hours of 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. As a resident of Surrey who lives close to a rail crossing, I am already blasted awake by the sound of the horn throughout the night. Running all of the trains at night so that “White Rock and other communities can enjoy their days train-free” would not be a solution for those of us who would be too sleep deprived to enjoy our days – “train-free” or not.

Pat Brealey, Surrey

• • •

The recent decision by the provincial government to join in a study of rail relocation has elicited some positive response.

However, this is the same government that refused to heed a petition signed by thousands of peninsular citizens for a comprehensive health and safety study of the dangers inherent in the transport of coal and noxious substances through our community.

Is it possible that the sudden interest in the matter by the provincial government is evidence of their concern about an election in May rather than real commitment to the issue? One senses political gamesmanship. Where were they three years ago when we really needed them?

Peter Ferris, Surrey