CP Rail officials met online with Pitt Meadows council on Tuesday night, promising hundreds of new jobs and millions in tax dollars if its new logistics park development goes ahead.
They also addressed the timeline of when city council knew about the project. The mayor and council have been harshly critical of the railway for advising council on Dec. 1, just days ahead of a public consultation process. CPR said they consulted with key stakeholders including Mayor Bill Dingwall and CAO Mark Roberts in May and June. The mayor clarified that he didn’t have the details he does now.
The project has drawn the ire of the entire council, and residents have started a petition to oppose the logistics park.
It is proposed to be an agricultural hub, with grain storage, have an auto lot, and storage and transload of fuels. It would be located east of Kennedy Road on land owned by CPR, just south of the existing intermodal yard.
Assistant vice-president Jeff Edwards was part of the Zoom meeting, along with director of government affairs Mike LoVecchio. Edwards is overseeing the recently announced CP Logistics Park: Vancouver, which will be located directly across from CP’s existing intermodal yard in Pitt Meadows. He is also in charge of the project that will see a new Harris Road underpass and Kennedy Road overpass to allow traffic to flow unimpeded past the tracks.
Edwards emphasized it is early in the process, and construction would not begin until 2026 by the current timeline. Application to Canadian Transportation Agency will not happen until late in 2021.
Edwards acknowledged there has been some disagreement about the nature of notification to the city. He said he spoke with Dingwall and Roberts in May and June, but those meetings were confidential due to the commercially sensitive nature of the information. Edwards said the railway was seeking early feedback prior to entering the regulatory process.
In their presentation the CPR officials said the new development would benefit the environment by reducing the number of truck movements on highways, reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The project would provide 150 to 250 direct jobs, and hundreds more during construction. Also, they said the facility would bring CPR’s contribution to Pitt Meadows up to $4.1 million in property taxes – approximately 20 per cent of the tax revenue collected by the city in 2020. The total would include taxes from the current intermodal facility.
Council first learned about the project on Dec. 1, and expressed opposition. CPR then put out a press release the next day.
About the spring meetings with CPR, Dingwall said parties routinely contact he and the CAO to “float ideas” and many never come to fruition. The two meetings May 20 and June 24 included “high level concepts,” of an industrial park that would contain large commodities. The plans presented differed from the project that has been proposed, he said, adding the city did not receive drawings or documents. He and Roberts expressed numerous concerns and strong opposition, said the mayor.
Coun. Anena Simpson asked what effects widespread opposition would have on the CPR plans.
Edwards said “we remain very, very early in our process.” They have a regulatory obligation to seek community feedback, and are looking for the community to help identify areas that require further study and mitigation.
“Our relationship with the community, as we’ve said a number of times, is incredibly important to us,” said Edwards. “We have been operating through Pitt Meadows since 1886, and have always had a strong relationship with the community.”
Coun. Tracy Miyashita said the city would need about 12 more full-time firefighters because of fire and explosion risks, and asked whether CPR be willing to provide funds to hire more firefighters.
Edwards said the logistics park would not be in operation until 2028, so the railway has a lot of time to work with fire department to understand what is required. He noted the company has a track record of training fire fighters.