Project includes the development of a four-lane underpass on Harris Road. (Contributed)

OUTLOOK: $150 million Pitt Meadows CP Rail project marches forward

City council prepares to address citizen concerns

The beginning of 2018 saw an expansive railway project being proposed for the City of Pitt Meadows.

The project includes the development of a four-lane underpass on Harris Road, two-lane overpass at Kennedy Road, and five kilometres of additional track at the Pitt Meadows CP

facility.

The project planning has been in development for the better part of a year now and shows no signs of slowing down.

The City of Pitt Meadows recently conducted community engagement regarding the project by hosting an open workshop, at which they heard the comments and concerns of several Pitt Meadows residents.

The results of this workshop have been prepared in a detailed report, according to Mayor Bill Dingwall, and is now waiting to be addressed by city council.

“We have a number of issues that are causing concern for our citizens,” said Dingwall.

“The noise from the building of trains and the knuckling sound when they clang together is clearly one.”

Several other issues have been raised by both citizens and councillors alike.

As former councillor Janis Elkerton commented in January: “I’m still surprised you think Harris Road is viable, with all the buildings that are so close to that railway.”

Two of these aforementioned buildings happen to be the historic Hoffman and Son Machine Shop, commonly referred to as Hoffman Garage by residents, and the Pitt Meadows Museum

will would possibly need to be pushed back.

The issues go beyond noise and historic buildings though, as Dingwall explains.

“Some of the roadways, for instance, around Kennedy Road, if we have a nice overpass will have traffic pushed onto them. These are older roads that are not built for heavy volume and heavy vehicles.”

With so many issues being brought up, council will likely have to roll out some initiatives to address these concerns to make sure the $150 million project receives the green light. These initiatives will come with their own unknown price tag which Dingwall believes will push the project over its estimated budget.

Such an expensive project is expected to have a good return on investment for not only the community of Pitt Meadows, but the rest of the province and country, as well.

Managing director of the Greater Vancouver Gateway Council, Mike Henderson, believes that the project is of not only national, but international importance.

“These are projects are required to allow Canada to continue to benefit from exporting products through the Port of Vancouver,” he explained. “This is Canada’s largest port, one of the largest

ports in North America. About 25 per cent of every export dollar Canada earns goes through this

port.”

The City of Pitt Meadows is more focused on the benefits for their community, of which Dingwall said there are many.

“It’ll help with everything from cars sitting and waiting for trains to smog pollution in our community,” he said. “In addition, our first responders will be able to move freely on Harris Road.”

Funding for this project is one of the biggest concerns of Pitt Meadows city council.

“The City of Pitt Meadows just doesn’t have the capacity to contribute to something that has a $150 million price tag to it,” Dingwall said.

Instead, the city is looking to organizations such as the National Trade Corridors Fund, which has $2 billion to disperse over 11 years. Even after the issue of funding has been dealt with, the project will still not see completion for quite some time.

“Once the funding is in place and the roles are responsibilities are defined, it’ll likely be a two-year project from that point,” said Dingwall.

Despite the final product being off in the distance still, Dingwall and the rest of city council are eagerly looking forward to the railway project getting underway.

“I think this project will help drive other projects that will assist our community, but also those who are just traveling through Pitt Meadows to other destinations,” Dingwall said.

The Pitt Meadows council is expected to have reviewed and addressed the community concerns report by the end of November.

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