The updated Harris Road underpass will mean shifting Harris Road slightly to the west at the railway crossing. (Port of Vancouver/Special to The News)

LETTER: What can be done to stop CP from pushing ahead

Resident raises worries about proximity of new track to Pitt Meadows homes

Dear Editor,

Pitt Meadows council appears to support CP Rail “building trains” within seven metres of homes in Pitt Meadows.

While council has not explicitly stated this fact, their actions and comments certainly support this statement.

CP Rail plans to build a lead track from Harris Road to Golden Ears Way, 4.3 metres north of the current tracks in this area.

This means that homes will now be seven metres from the tracks, and the trains are no longer just passing through.

RECENT: Shifting Harris Road part of port authority’s update on Rail and Road Improvements Project

The main reason for the road and rail project is to turn a transportation corridor into a rail yard to allow CP Rail to build trains through our residential community.

The mayor has been clear as he stated during the engagement and priorities commitee meeting on July 9, 2019: “The whole reason this is happening, quite frankly, is to build longer trains and they can’t build them over the Pitt River – not allowed – so they have to come east and Harris Road is the pinch point.”

Council is very well aware that building trains in our residential area brings significant health and safety concerns, but doesn’t seem willing to effectively manage these risks.

When concerns were voiced during the same meeting, about the diesel fumes residents would be exposed to while diesel engines sit idling beside homes, the mayor responded: “The trains are going to put out their fumes.”

The Port of Vancouver conducted a noise and vibration study, which demonstrated the current noise from CP operations in our residential area exceeds Health Canada’s allowable limits by a significant amount.

They also indicate the pre-existing impacts caused by rail operations are not part of the project and only propose to build a total of 610 metres of noise walls. During the May 4, 2021 engagement and priorities commitee meeting, Councillor Tracy Miyashita stated: “I am pleased with the mitigation strategies that I am seeing. I think that they’re really good solutions.”

The mayor indicates that the project does not cover existing noise levels, “nor should it,” he said during a regular council meeting on Sept. 21 this year.

Most concerning is that it appears that CP and the port have been using their positions of power to inform council that CP can go ahead with the track extension with or without the support of the city.

The mayor understands CP’s position so well, that CP thanked him for providing context during a council meeting as the mayor’s comments captured everything CP would want us to know.

The mayor states we can’t do anything to stop the track expansion.

I don’t agree.

Council missed an excellent opportunity to address the health and safety concerns posed by this project.

RELATED: Katzie ask feds for impact assessment of CP Rail projects in Pitt Meadows

The council could have supported Katzie First Nation’s request for designation of this project to ensure a comprehensive impact assessment is conducted. This was an action that could have been taken to ensure the health and safety concerns would be addressed.

Who knows, maybe an assessment would result in a condition that did stop CP from building trains in our residential area. At the very least, the cumulative effects of all CP projects in our city could be determined and effective mitigation enforced.

One has to wonder who is representing the residents of Pitt Meadows?

Heather Anderson, Pitt Meadows

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