Pitt Meadows council and residents are speaking out against an expansion of CP Rail’s operations in the city.
On Wednesday, CP announced its plan to build a “multi-modal, multi-commodity transload and logistics facility on strategic land holdings adjacent to its existing intermodal rail facility in Pitt Meadows.”
It will be called the CP Logistics Park: Vancouver, would be 41 hectares (101 acres) in size, and is in the design stages. It is still subject to federal approvals.
CP said the site would include three main components:
• A fuel and ethanol transload and rail facility.
• An agricultural hub where products will be received by rail and transloaded to shipping containers for distribution around the world.
• An auto compound to receive automobiles destined for local distributors.
City hall issued a press release Thursday morning, after council was briefed about the plans by CP for the first time on Tuesday.
“Council is strongly opposed to the expansion at VIF,” said Mayor Bill Dingwall. “We know that our community is weary and not supportive of further industrial development that is contradictory to our vision of being the Natural Place.
“We are extremely disappointed that CP waited until Tuesday afternoon to brief council about their decision to begin community consultations next week. This is not meaningful nor transparent engagement and fails to provide council or the community with adequate opportunities to become properly informed on this very sensitive issue. This industrial park will have large unsightly grain silos and fuel tanks that exacerbate public safety and environmental concerns. Not only is the site located in west Pitt Meadows on farmland, the Katzie Slough traverses through the middle of the industrial park, leading to a major pump station and this industrial park will create an unpleasant view when entering the community from the west.”
Pitt Meadows resident Heather Anderson predicts there will be strong opposition from residents, especially those in neighbourhoods along the tracks. Referring to the Lac-Magentic rail disaster in 2013, she said the fuel transload element is particularly alarming.
“This is extremely concerning to this community,” said Anderson. “It’s a huge safety concern.”
The 20-year resident of Pitt Meadows has crusaded against adding a third rail on the right-of-way through the city, because of the noise pollution and diesel emissions from idling trains. She has attended council meetings, knocked on 400 doors petitioning neighbours to oppose it, and distributed flyers. But this logistics facility proposal “has created a whole new level” of concern.
She is already seeing opposition grow in social media.
“You would be hard pressed to find anyone supportive of their (CP’s) plans.”
CP said there would be economic benefits.
“As Canada continues to seek sustainable ways to fuel our economic recovery, the CP Logistics Park: Vancouver would be a critical piece of infrastructure to keep Canadian goods moving, create jobs and build confidence in Canada as a strong and sustainable global trading partner,” said Keith Creel, CP president and CEO. “Moving goods by rail is environmentally sustainable, removes long-haul trucks from our publicly funded roads and highways, and ultimately reduces greenhouse gas emissions for the benefit of us all.”
The city noted it has no decision-making role in the process. The federal government, the Canada Transportation Act and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act regulate and identify requirements for the type and construction of railways and facilities, it said.
The city clarified the proposed logistics park is separate from the Pitt Meadows Road and Rail Project. For the past three years, council has worked with the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, CP and the Government of Canada to advance the $141 million project that includes an underpass at Harris Road, an overpass at Kennedy Road and associated yard and track expansion.
“Throughout the Pitt Meadows Road and Rail Project negotiations, never were there any discussions about an industrial park,” said Dingwall.