Pitt Meadows city council will be doing an environmental study as part of its work against a proposed new CP Rail logistics park.
The facility, which was announced in early December, will store fuels, grains and vehicles at a 41 hectare site just south of the existing CP Rail intermodal facility in Pitt Meadows. Council has voiced concerns about pollution, fire hazards, public safety and even the public image of the city.
There is already strong opposition to the park, which would be known as CP Logistics Park: Vancouver. There are already, as of Friday, close to 600 signatures on an online petition on change.org, which is titled “Stop CP Rail Intermodal Expansion in Pitt Meadows.”
Citizen opposition is also being organized on a Facebook page called Pitt Meadows Intermodal Expansion – Concerned Residents.
At it’s Tuesday meeting, city council encouraged citizen opposition, and approved the spending of $50,000 to $75,000 for an environmental study “to determine associated health and environmental impacts of CP Rail’s operations along the rail corridor in Pitt Meadows, including but not limited to, baseline measurements of pollutants and carcinogens and their relation to regulatory standards.”
“If the results are not compliant with established standards, the city will be in a strong position to advocate and effect change with the federal regulatory agencies to the best we are able,” said CAO Mark Roberts.
He said the city has a operating budget surplus that will cover the study.
Each member of council spoke in opposition to the project.
Mayor Bill Dingwall called it “A blind side stomach punch to council, to our staff and most importantly to our community.”
Coun. Nicole MacDonald voiced concerns about the suddenness of the announcement on Dec. 1, and CP’s move into public consultation.
“The lack of disclosure on this behemoth project is an insult to the city and its residents,” said MacDonald.
She said the city has already engaged federal and provincial officials, the Katzie First Nation, neighbouring municipalities and Metro Vancouver about its opposition to the logistics park expansion.
MacDonald addressed a suggestion the city should pull out of its work on another project it is working on with CP and other levels of government – the Harris Road underpass, Kennedy Road overpass and rail extensions. It is a $141 million project.
MacDonald noted there are 40 trains per day through the city, expected to rise to 65 “in the not too distant future,” even without the expansion of the logistics yard. She said train traffic and train building operations could effectively “cut the community in half,” and it is better for the city to negotiate. At stake is the city not making a financial contribution to the project, preservation of museum buildings, sound and sight mitigation, and traffic flows during construction.
“It is essential we are at the table,” said MacDonald.
Dingwall noted that although council has been negotiating with CP and the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority for the underpass and overpass projects, nothing has been mentioned about the logistics park until this month.
“This is not beneficial to our community at all… very concerned about some of the impacts to the environment and our health, safety,” said Coun. Tracy Miyashita. “We are fiercely protective of quality of life in our community,” and want a small-town feel.
Coun. Mike Hayes said after CP is able to build a third track through the city, it could start on a fourth.
“The sudden announcement of this Canadian Pacific proposed expansion has in my view destroyed any chance for CP to build trust and transparency with our trust and our city,” he said.
“We are in danger of going from The Natural place to The Industrial Place.”
He said CP is willing to “destroy quality farmland, property values and quality of life.”
Coun. Anena Simpson said “I felt like a curtain was being pulled back, and I was finally seeing just how nefarious CP’s plans for our community are.”
She spoke against rail activities in a residential area, dangerous chemicals being stored beside waterways, and fuel tanks built on on farmland.
Coun. Bob Meachen said CP is benefiting from rail laws that date back to the origins of the country.
“The laws that govern what large railway companies can do within Canada were written a long, long time ago, when the environmental issues we face today, with global warming and everything else, just didn’t exist.”
The city will meet with CP at its Tuesday council meeting.
CP is hosting an online community consultation about the project on Saturday from 1-2 p.m.