Railing against coal dust off track

Re: We just wait for the dust to settle, Feb. 19 letters.

BNSF’s renewed lease agreement – not coal shipments – should be cause for concern

BNSF’s renewed lease agreement – not coal shipments – should be cause for concern


Re: We just wait for the dust to settle, Feb. 19 letters.

It appears that any ‘train-bashing’ letter is a sure thing for publication in Peace Arch News, so I offer my thoughts on Stephanie Smith’s assertions.

Having been passed by coal trains innumerable times, I have yet to come home looking like a chimney sweep.

Also, if this dust is so pervasive, where is the evidence on the buildings and pavement along the waterfront?

Since the trains originate in the Powder River Basin, I suggest that all the dust, if any, has blown off in the U.S.

Incidentally, coal is mined in lumps, and powder is a byproduct. It is stretching credulity to state that coal traffic is a premature cause of track failure, and it would be useful to know the source(s) of this arguable claim.

Of more concern is White Rock’s renewing of the lease of BNSF’s property for a further five-year term with the annual payment increasing to $400,000 starting this August (Council renews BNSF lease, Jan. 29.)

It is frustrating that council made this decision at a closed meeting, ‘rubber-stamping’ such an increase, knowing that it will lead inevitably to even higher parking fees. It is another nail in White Rock’s existence as a separate entity.

This contribution to BNSF shareholders amounts to roughly one-third of the revenue White Rock derives from parking. In addition, White Rock has to pay for the cost of upgrades, maintenance and policing. The combination must mean that we are well into summer before we have paid our bills and can start putting money in the taxpayers’ account.

The land that BNSF owns has no alternative use for the company and the earlier nominal rent reflected that fact. How can useless land be worth an extra $10,000 per year?

I am declining to pay the increase for residents’ parking decals and question why council is continuing with the leasing arrangement, which amounts to coercion, without reviewing the terms. Obviously, we cannot return to the old arrangement, but I question whether we should continue with the current one with further $50,000 increases every five years without a re-think.

Lower Mainland residents have access to the ocean at only two seaside locations, and we should not penalize visitors by imposing ever-increasing parking fees in order to maintain the exclusiveness of a separate city.

Being White Rock’s sole source of income other than property taxes, parking income is council’s unlimited cash-cow – with visitors wallets an easy target.

It appeared to make sense in the ’50s for this little enclave of White Rock to go it alone, but our neighbour to the north has grown up, and eventually White Rock will have to amalgamate with Surrey for the benefits of a larger tax base and rationalized services.

John Bliss, White Rock