Take a side on coal trains


For five weeks I have been asking MP Russ Hiebert to tell me what his position is on the coal-train issue.


For five weeks I have been asking MP Russ Hiebert to tell me what his position is on the coal-train issue.

It is an issue of great importance. The increase to coal-train traffic will be costly. The economic benefit to a handful of jobs at the port does not justify the health, environmental and economic costs to our community.

The benefits reside largely in the U.S.; the costs reside largely in Hiebert’s riding (South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale). Despite this, when I, a constituent, ask my MP to tell me what his position is, he won’t answer.

Two weeks after my July 11 inquiry, his office mailed a non-committal response. His letter indicated he made a call to Transport Canada and was told they have “no concerns of any kind about the movement of coal along the BNSF line.”

Hiebert also indicated he spoke to the CEO of Port Metro Vancouver. He did not share with me what was said, but he appears to be satisfied. He noted “BNSF is legally entitled to decide how much and what kind of freight it may move.” He believes BNSF should consider public consultations. A hollow comment at best.

He noted he and his family enjoy the waterfront and that he would continue to monitor developments. Empty, non-committal words in response to a direct question with a request for a straightforward and honest answer – surprise, surprise.

The implication from his letter is that he is fine with the proposal, but he has not indicated this explicitly – because he won’t provide a straightforward and honest answer.

Leadership entails taking a stand and engaging in the debate. This community needs leadership from our MP, but we’re not getting it from Hiebert. Perhaps he’s too busy trying to desperately establish some degree of relevance within his own party.

Chris Alexander, Surrey

• • •

I’ve been to a meeting put on by the group, www.coalfreewhiterock.ca.

which is working hard to bring this issue of increase in coal-train traffic to the people living in White Rock and the surrounding areas.

The point that I took away is how unstable the bluff is that these trains pass by and shake routinely. With the increase in traffic and weight comes the increase in land slides and derailments that follow. This is a very real threat that has to be weighed out to analyze and see how a derailment would affect this area.

To the front-line workers that may be exposed to chemicals that pass through this beautiful little seaside escape, how much ‘danger pay’ are you getting to justify your exposure to chlorine gas when you need to make sure everyone is evacuated? How ‘high’ do you want your high-risk job to be? Do we even have the resources from our hospital and the staff that supports it? From our fire departments and our paramedics?

Who will pay the health-care costs? The cleanup costs? BNSF? No. Probably the taxpayers who will also be the victims in this scenario.

We have the power to stop this increase in rail traffic before we have to say in hindsight that we should’ve taken this very seriously.

Rebecca Matthews, White Rock


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