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STOPCPRAIL group would stop coming rail projects in Pitt Meadows

Council wants to proceed with Harris Road underpass
Heather Emmett (top, left) of STOPCPRAIL met with Pitt Meadows council this week.

The opposition to CP Rail’s new logistics yard is shared by both Pitt Meadows council and a growing new citizen’s group STOPCPRAIL, but the two groups differ on the railway’s proposed overpass and underpass projects in the city.

STOPCPRAIL would put the brakes on all CP developments in the city, whereas council supports CP’s Road and Rail projects, and the Harris Road underpass in particular.

Heather Emmett of the group STOPCPRAIL appeared before city council in a Zoom meeting on Tuesday night. Her group wants to educate the public about CP’s planned projects and their impacts, and unite residents to oppose them.

“We are residents who are very concerned for our environment, the health and safety of our community, and its future,” said Emmett. “Most importantly, we want to give hope to Pitt Meadows residents, council and the city there are actions we can take to stop the CP Rail expansion in Pitt Meadows. We can come together, and get involved.”

Opposition is based on factors such as air pollution, noise, increased train and truck traffic, storage of hazardous fuels at the site, and environmental concerns for the Katzie Slough which is adjacent to the logistics yard.

The logistics yard will include a fuel and ethanol transload and rail facility, and agricultural hub where products will be received and transloaded to shipping containers for distribution around the world, and an auto compound to receive vehicles destined for local distributors.

READ ALSO: Pitt Meadows city hall and residents oppose new CP Rail operation

Emmett noted the town of Milton, Ont. has held up CN Rail from building an intermodal facility for 20 years. The federal government gave CN the green light late this week, however.

Emmett said her group has researched the proposed Pitt Meadows project, created a website and Facebook page, drafted template letters and listed government contacts, distributed 3,000 fliers, and provided lawn signs “to show strong, visual opposition.”

“We are loud and proud Pitt Meadows residents, and we intend to get louder and prouder,”

Emmett received thanks from each member of council.

“It is amazing to me what you have managed to do, in just over a month, to gather our community together to oppose this logistics park,” said Coun. Anena Simpson. “I love the message of hope. It’s a strong message, it’s a true message, and there is always hope,”

Mayor Bill Dingwall said council is unanimously opposed to the industrial logistics park, and “extremely concerned” about storage of commodities that would be stored there.

However, council is continuing to negotiate the $141 million Gateway project that will build an overpass at Kennedy Road, underpass on Harris Road and third track. He noted the city has signed a memorandum of understanding with CP and the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, and the parties are working on design and construction agreements which will require the city’s signature. The city is asking for sound mitigation fencing, and seeking its own advice about air quality impact.

READ ALSO: Council signs MOU for Pitt Meadows rail projects

“As I’ve said many times, the trains are going to keep coming, and they’re going to increase. We do see the two projects from a completely different lens,” said Dingwall.

After the meeting, Dingwall explained the Harris Road underpass in particular has been discussed by the city for as long as 50 years, and rail traffic continues to grow.

“Train traffic is heavy now, Harris Road is blocked a lot,” he said, adding the national need for movement of goods will mean more trains coming through the city.

He said the underpass will be beneficial to traffic flow, and will stop the situation where first responders are held up by passing trains. During public engagement, the city found 80 per cent of citizens support the infrastructure.

The group has a website with a petition agains the intermodal expansion, which has 1,783 signatures as of Friday.

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Neil Corbett

About the Author: Neil Corbett

I have been a journalist for more than 30 years, the past decade with the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News.
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