UPDATE – Thank you to the Directors of Metro Vancouver re Coal transferring proposal for the Fraser Surrey Docks…. Township Councillor Bob Long shows his true stripes!

Posted: June 13, 2013 in Uncategorized

UPDATE – While it has been in the news a good deal in the last 24 hours we are thrilled to announce that Metro Vancouver stood firm in support of all residents of our region. This was not a left / right issue this is all about being a right / wrong issue. I am and always have been a staunch free enterpriser, but I don’t have blinders on and will not be like some of those in business that will always side with business despite any reasoned common sense.

Unfortunately out here in the Township of Langley our elected leaders are doing nothing but serving friends and insiders. While we are thrilled with the vote of the majority of Metro Vancouver Directors we are NOT thrilled but also NOT SURPRISED  by Councillor Bob Long’s vote (1 of 4) who supported this proposal. So out here in the Township of Langley, faced with an increase, from about 15 to 38 unit (12,000 foot) trains a day, we can now see that we have those in power Municipally who will have no problem sitting back and doing nothing but watching the destruction of our Municipality as we know it! I am still living in hope that one day there will be a recognition by the electorate of what is REALLY happening out here and will be willing to do something about it.

RG

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It is hard to imagine a more inappropriate use for this port facility in the virtual center of Metro Vancouver. Fraser Surrey Docks say there business is down by 75% due to it being a shallow draft port. With the greatest of respect, rescuing Fraser Surrey Docks at the serious health and quality of life expense of residents of the lower mainland is not a trade-off we want. Let us learn from experience! 

Let us start off with a little bit of history that I would bet nobody currently sitting on the Metro Board of Directors is aware of, (That includes Langley City and Township Directors) a bill of goods sold to the innocent people of the Township of Langley 45 years ago.

On September 24th, 1968, Hunter Vogel MLA, emissary for the late Premier WAC Bennett, William Mearns President of B.C. Hydro and Mr. King and Mr. Martin of B.C. Hydro came to as Special Meeting of the Township of Langley Council with a very serious request. They explained the proposal to run a fly over rail line from Fort Langley up over Rawlison Crescent, onto the joint section (part of the Interurban Corridor) and continuing onto the new Roberts Bank Rail Corridor at Cloverdale through to the NEW Roberts Bank seaport. The Township Council was reassured by this delegation, in writing, that there would be one coal train a day each way. Quote “Mr. Martin stated that the trains will be one mile in length and there will be one train per day each way at a maximum speed of 35 miles per hour. It would take approximately two minutes for a train to cross any road.” That was it, guaranteed! (We have a copy of the meeting minutes)

For the record, WAC’s vision for Roberts Bank as a seaport was definitely a forward thinking and visionary move, unfortunately they missed the boat back in the day for a far more appropriate location for a rail line. This decision for a rail line was in direct contravention to the recommendations of the Lower Mainland Planning Board, which was fired by WAC Bennett for making their recommendation.

Well the Township and City of Langley now see 14 – 18 trains a day, (Coal and Container) up to 12,000 feet in length. Those trains take about 15 minutes to pass a given spot. Despite the 9 overpasses that are being built between Delta and the Township of Langley, there are NO overpasses at 200th and the By-Pass and the By-Pass and Glover Road, the two heaviest congestion points. That is where it is today – with the expansion of Roberts Bank we will see 35 – 38 trains a day a few years from now. I have said many times before, in the future you will have two Langleys – one North of the Tracks and one South of the Tracks. It is all because nobody had a vision for the future and what the future was going to look like.

OH, and by the way, despite CN and CPs commitment to spray each train twice, once loading as well as once in Kamloops, I would suggest you ask anyone living in the Township and/or City within 100 yards of either side of the tracks and ask if they have a problem with coal dust? The Township of Langley has a Municipal Committee, the CP Community Advisory Committee that meets about four times a year. The issue of Coal Dust is brought up frequently due to resident complaints; the answer more often than not was there was an equipment break down in Kamloops, so they just let the trains pass. Residents of Chilliwack are severely aggravated by the dust from Coal Trains going through their community EVERY day! Coal dust is a serious issue and problem.

Talking to a prominent resident of the Township who just drove back from Calgary last week, he commented on seeing coal trains with this absolute cloud of coal dust that was visible above and on each side of the coal trains on their way to the coast.

So back to the proposal being considered by all of you this coming Friday, my point is very clear, you are not making a short term decision but one that will grow and expand exponentially. They openly admit to wanting to ship 4 million tonnes per year with room to grow to 8 million tonnes. Exponential growth beyond these numbers is a fact of life and history tells us that in spades – lets learn from it.

What is even more distressing is we are going through this process for U.S. Coal because it has already been rejected by a few locations across the border. Why would we do this to the City of White Rock (a Metro member), it’s citizens and summer tourism population, right on the waterfront? Why would we do this to the City of New Westminster situated so close to this activity? According to news reports the U.S. will be building two ports for this use, but they will not be open for about 8 – 10 years. Why are we going through this for a stop gap U.S. solution? What happens next? The number of jobs to be created are a drop in the bucket compared to other solutions for their economic problem.

I have heard a number of comments in the media from elected municipal/city representatives that it is not our decision (Municipal/City) but a Provincial and/or Federal decision? I absolutely beg to disagree; the Directors of Metro Vancouver have a fiduciary responsibility for air quality in the Lower Mainland. Everyone was up in arms over SE2 and the incinerator up the valley. So why are we even considering this proposal?

Despite and beyond the serious health / air quality issue how about trying something unique, SAY NO on the part of Metro Vancouver and send our senior levels of government and their agency a message. They can override your decision and approve it if they wish, but they do so at their peril. Let them the public know you are fighting for their best interests. They can take the heat if they overrode your decision. They would deserve it!

In the Township and City of Langley, thanks to the Social Credit Government who in 1988 sold the B.C. Hydro rolling stock and rails of the Interurban Corridor BUT had the foresight to protect passenger rights at no cost to the taxpayer. Thanks to this action we have a light at the end of the tunnel that would allow for a passenger service from Chilliwack through to Scott Road Station. This is due to an agreement that we forced renewal of (another 21 years) during my term as Mayor, 4 months before it would have been lost forever. CP and the Liberal Government were not at all happy with me, another anchor I am proud to carry! It is now up to a future Provincial Government to permit that passenger service which CP and CN would be contractually obligated to provide room for on that line. This would have the cause and effect of reducing heavy rail traffic on this corridor and provide for very low cost light rail passenger service, again from Scott Road Station through to Chilliwack.

It is long past time that our municipalities and cities have the courage to stand up to our senior levels of government and their agencies in cases that are demanded by our taxpayers. As I said earlier, IF a senior level of government wants to trample on decisions of local government, they do so at their peril. You don’t have to be complicit in their bad decisions.

On behalf of the residents of the lower mainland we urge you to vote against this proposal.

Good Luck in your deliberations

Rick Green

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I am working on a few posts that have been asked for by readers – Interesting content to come, stay tuned.

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Comments
  1. Mike McPhee says:

    Thank you Mr. Green for the update! I too am a free enterpriser but I could never get my head around that COAL PLAN?

    ITrain thermal coal from Wyoming across the White Rock border, load it on a barge in New West, and then off a barge at Texada Island to be reloaded on a ship to China??? It was a stupid plan and anyone with a brain knows that it had some clauses/agendas/tax breaks that would screw the general public (not to mention the coal dust issue). The kicker for me was in the US they are always crying about jobs, why would they not build a coal terminal in Tacoma, Seattle or Bellingham? So kudos to whomever gassed that dumb Coal Train idea

  2. gadfly says:

    The myopia of the current ToL council is astonishing. Congratulations to you, Rick, for having pointed out once again the history of the 1960’s, (as I did about five years ago). This needs to be understood by all normal residents.

    gadfly, from Osoyoos (where there are no trains). Years ago, there was one.

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