BREAKING NEWS – The Railway through the Langleys…. History revealed! The rules of engagement…. Just the Facts!

Posted: January 31, 2018 in Uncategorized

The rail line through the Township of Langley is difficult to deal with now but it is only going to become exponentially worse, given the plan to triple train movement through our municipality. Now, the Railway is not going away BUT it is long past time we deal with its interface within our community. There are 11 railway crossings to deal with! All of this comes at a very real cost, the cost of improvements should not in any way be borne by the taxpayer of Langley. As you can see by the local press features below, we are being presented with lists of needed projects and apparently the need for borrowing on one specifically, WHY?

The history surrounding the railways creation presents a number of historical REAL arguments in favor of the Township that have never been tested, in court if necessary! Is our Mayor and Council aware of the following? Obviously not!

It is time they stand up and challenge staff to do their job and do whatever is possible and probable in an effort to protect taxpayers. An example of that is the commitment back in September 24th 1968 that B.C. Hydro will be building an overpass (grade separation) on the By-Pass – Really? Read below!

Message to Council: Dig into the facts before you waste taxpayer dollars. The easy solution is just paying the bill, the tough call is to fight back and say NO!

Learning from history provides us with the knowledge necessary to deal with the original intent, purpose, plan and or laws that governed a remarkable engineering feat going back to the year 1906! This achievement was a Rail line from New Westminster through to Chilliwack that served the farming community and the then 18,000 residents in the valley at a cost of $3.5 million. (Click on “S Fraser Community Rail” link on menu bar above for video)

All of what surrounded this achievement and allowed it to be built was governed by the by-laws of the day, which are still in effect. By-Laws were enacted by every Municipality and City affected. For the purposes of this writing we are dealing with the Langleys.

What, if any responsibility are we accepting OR what input are the Langleys being afforded for needed improvements in the railway / public interface through our community?

What is the impact of the Heavy Rail line (the Interurban line) through the Langleys?

Roberts Bank Rail Corridor Agreement committing $307 million for 9 road/rail separations along the Roberts Bank Rail Corridor. This agreement was signed off by 12 funding partners to be witnessed by invited guests only behind closed doors in the Township of Langley Council Theatre on June 28th, 2007. 

Here are a couple of recent headlines:

“More than $375 million in transportation projects shortlisted for the Langley Region” according to new studies released by the Gateway Transportation Collaboration Forum.

From the Langley Times

“Rail upgrades will cost Langley Township $6 million” Langley Township is looking at borrowing to deal with approximately $6.3 million in extra rail crossing upgrades it will need over the next several years.

From the Langley Advance – Mathew Claxton

It appears that the Township of Langley Mayor, Council and staff are unaware or ignoring the history dealing with the rail line. Why? Who is really responsible for the needed upgrades?

First, the history of how and why the Interurban corridor was developed and under what laws of the day permitted its development? I have highlighted key items in the agreements for brevity but I have the documents in my possession in case some would question my sanity.

The Facts in history are still in force! I will lay out the documents that are relevant!

The forerunner to the B.C. Electric Company and the current B.C. Hydro Company was known back in the early 1900s as the Vancouver Power Company Limited. For the then 79 mile Interurban Rail Line to be built, Vancouver through to Chilliwack, it required the right of way and cooperation of all the cities and municipalities along this route.

The Articles of Agreement – dated March 1st, 1906 incorporated into 1906 By-Laws

The rules of engagement were outlined in great detail through “Articles of Agreement” dated the first day of March 1906 (Schedules A & B) with respect to what the owners and any other subsequent owners (successorship) were required to follow with respect to the responsibility to cover costs in a wide variety of interfaces with the public. Just a few highlighted items of interest within the agreement:

“2c The Vancouver Power Co. shall and will, from time to time, and at all times during the erection of any poles, the laying and stringing of any wire or wires, and during any repairs to and alterations of the same, during the erection, maintenance and operation of the said electric tramway, take due care and proper precaution for the safety and protection of foot and other passengers and of livestock of all kinds passing along the streets, lanes, bridges or highways of the Township of Langley on which the erection, laying, stringing, construction, alterations, maintenance and operations are being performed, and will not unnecessarily interfere with or impede the public right of travelling on such public highways, streets, lanes or bridges, nor in any way obstruct the entrance to any door or gateway, or interfere with the free access to any buildings or premises;”

“2e The Vancouver Power Co. at its own cost and charge shall strengthen all bridges on the public roads or highways crossed by its tramway sufficiently to make the same safe”…..

“2i Whenever The Vancouver Power Co. shall use the streets, roads or highways of the Township of Langley for its tram line or lines, it shall at its own cost and charge construct and maintain, where same is necessary, culverts for water courses and drainage purposes in such places and of such dimensions through and under its tracks as may be directed from time to time by the Township of Langley;”

“3 ….but it is understood and agreed that whatever shall be done hereunder shall be such as may be done without any cost or expense whatever to the Township of Langley.”

“4….The Vancouver Power Co. will in no other way whatsoever discriminate against the Township of Langley or any of the residents thereof in the carrying on of its business.”

“8 The Township of Langley covenants and agrees that it will allow no other Electric Railway or Tramway to be built and operated along any public highway or road hereafter occupied and used by The Vancouver Power Co. under the provisions of this agreement, provided, however, that this clause shall have no force after the expiration of 99 years from the date hereof.”

Interpretation of #8 above – That would mean the rights over Township of Langley land would have expired November 3rd, 2005. The land I am talking about is the Municipal Road interfaces that cross the tracks that are in place. The land under the rails in the Township of Langley is not lineal ownership by the railway; it is a series of railway owned lands interrupted by municipal connecting roads owned by the municipality with rights given by the Municipality on a 99 year lease. That lease expired on Nov. 3rd 2005!

“14 It is further covenanted and agreed between the parties hereto that this agreement is to endure for the benefit of and be binding upon the successors and assigns of the Township of Langley and The Vancouver Power Co. respectively.”

The Langley Tram Power and Light By-Law 1906

The “Articles of Agreement” were incorporated into and through By-Laws which were specifically enacted for this purpose.

  1. On October 6th, 1906 “The Langley Tram Power and Light By-Law 1906 was read a first time and a third time.
  2. It was the law of the day that this railway required the assent of the electors (a referendum even back then) and was approved on the 20th day of October, A.D. 1906
  3. It was reconsidered, finally passed, signed and the Seal of the Corporation attached thereto the 3rd day of November, A.D. 1906.
  4. It was signed by John McDonald Reeve and J. W. Berry C.M.C.

Agreement between the The Vancouver Power Company and the Corporation of Langley

  • The Board of the Vancouver Power Company requested the District of Langley to execute each of these agreements and served notice that the Board has decided to proceed with the building of the Electric Railway from New Westminster to Chilliwack without avoidable delay.

FAST FORWARD TO

Minutes of the Corporation of the Township of Langley Special Meeting September 24th, 1968

Mayor Poppy was in the chair with Alderman Barichello, Blair, Booth and Shuster in attendance.

Topic for discussion, B.C. Hydro Railway. In attendance were Hunter Vogel MLA, William Mearns Vice President of B.C. Hydro, D. King and R. Martin of B.C. Hydro.

A full explanation and discussion took place with respect to the proposed Rawlison Crescent rail flyover from the mainline in Fort Langley connecting up to the Interurban Corridor by 232nd and Highway #1. This section, known as the Pratt Livingston corridor runs through to Cloverdale where it separates and runs straight through to Roberts Bank. This was being proposed for the purposes of serving the NEW (at the time) proposed Roberts Bank Port for the purposes of Coal shipments.

Mr. Martin went through a list of stated crossings in Langley; of particular interest is #10 on his list:

“10. Langley By-Pass – The track shall be re-located to facilitate the building of a complete grade separation at this location. Mr. Martin stated that the trains will be one mile (5,280 ft) in length and there will be one train each way per day at a maximum speed of 35 mile per hour. It would take approximately two minutes for a train to cross any road. Mr. Mearns stated that the proposals regarding crossings in Langley will be confirmed in writing.”    

Follow up was promised but no follow up was received to our knowledge.

Minutes of the Corporation of the Township of Langley Special Meeting November 12th, 1968

RE Roberts Bank Railway

Alderman Booth asked if any further information regarding the location of the railway link near Fort Langley has been provided to the municipality. Mayor Poppy replied that no information had been received to this date, and also pointed out that the decision to locate the railway in this vicinity had been made without any consultation at the local level whatsoever.

INFORMATION FACT – In 1968, in order to create a cost effective access to the NEW Delta Port Coal Terminal the WAC Bennett Government decided to route the heavy rail coal trains through Langley using the (Fort Langley) Livingston to Cloverdale section of the BCER/Hydro rail line. The entire Lower Mainland Planning Board was disbanded by the WAC Bennett Gov’t. as a result of the planning Boards opposition to the Langley routing. Langley was NOT consulted. Today the Township of Langley sees about 12 – 14 trains a day (coal and containers) that are 12,000 ft to 14,000 ft in length. With the advent of Terminal 2 at Roberts Bank it is public knowledge that we will be seeing upwards of 35 trains a day. How will this interface with car and truck traffic in the Township and the City?

FAST FORWARD TO

B.C. Government Press Release re sale of B.C. Hydro’s Freight Division to Itel of Chicago dated July 27th, 1988.

“B.C. Government Names ITEL Rail Corp. as successful bidder in sale of B.C. Hydro’s Freight Division. (Otherwise known as the Interurban Rail Corridor) C.P. Rail acquires operating rights to strategic trackage for Roberts Bank Coal Port. (Otherwise known as the Pratt Livingston Corridor roughly 232nd through to Cloverdale) a 21 year renewable agreement at either parties request. Passenger rights were protected in perpetuity as part of the ITEL sale and for 21 years as part of the CP agreement expiring in August of 2009 FOR THE Pratt Livingston Corridor.”

The terms and conditions pertaining to this sale seemed to disappear from public view or for that matter from the records of B.C. Hydro between B.C. Hydro, CP Rail and Itel of Chicago.

FAST FORWARD TO

Mayor Rick Green Township of Langley uncovered the previously unknown Master Agreement between B.C. Hydro, Itel and CP Rail in April of 2009

This Master Agreement could not be found by the Township and its lawyers going back to 2005. It was uncovered by myself within 24 hours of learning about it in 2009. “To the surprise of many passenger rights were spelled out in detail as a condition of this sale. Use for passenger service is to be at no cost!” It also spelled out that passenger use on the joint section known as the Pratt Livingston Corridor (approx.. 232nd Street through to Cloverdale) was subject to a 21 year clause renewable at either parties wishes due to expire in August of 2009.

INFORMATION FACT – Through the efforts of Mayor Green (Township of Langley) and all Mayors South of the Fraser, these passenger rights were renewed in April of 2009, four months before they were lost forever.

Summary:

The quality of life for our residents is at serious risk due to noise and traffic distribution, not to mention millions of dollars annually in lost wages and productivity incurred by Langley residents having to sit in traffic for 5 – 10 minutes (or more) each time a train goes by. Well there is a very interesting professional study produced in 2005 locally using a formula that had been developed from a university in the U.S. related to a cost/traffic/rail interface analysis.

There were eleven crossings analyzed using 2005 vehicle and train numbers and length for calculation. They are dramatically far less than today.

  • Based on ten of 18 port trains a day back in 2005
  • Average wait time 3 minutes
  • Average vehicle occupancy 1.5 people
  • Fuel Consumption idle 1.66 Liters per hour (Dept. of National Resources Canada statistic.
  • Fuel cost 90 cents per liter (todays cost $1.34?)
  • Lost time cost per individual $9.00 per hour

Extrapolating the above equates to

  • Direct cost of time lost per train             $  75
  • Cost of fuel consumed per train $    74
  • Direct cost to Langley residents per train $  49
  • Direct costs to Langley residents per day $6,674.90

The estimated total net economic loss per year to Langley City and Township residents resulting from Vancouver Port Authority Roberts Bank Delta Port train movements – $2,436,338.50 ! This is based on 2005 movement and cost numbers!

We look to our Council to seek out solutions to this pressing problem, putting the pressure, legal or otherwise, onto the current users based on historical agreements. If we don’t come to grip with this problem, as I said many times while in office, we will be two Municipalities, one North of the tracks and one South of the tracks!

NOTE – There are up to 4 Southern Rail Trains per day not included in the above calculation.

RG

I am working on a few posts at present that I believe are of significant concern to Township of Langley Residents, come back often for news of interest to Township residents.

Protect your Democratic Rights – Protect your NEIGHBORS Democratic Rights – stay informed, stay involved and VOTE!!!

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Comments
  1. Neil Ziola says:

    Hi Rick,
    Congratulations on your recovery. As we enter these golden years the challenges seem to mount. I always have enjoyed your blogs, not that I always agree with you. On this one you are dead on the money! Spending is out of control at all 3 levels of government and we the people must call all politicians to account for waste and unnecessary spending….my wife is quite capable of spending all I can make.
    Regards,
    Neil

    • Neil, thank you for your comment. As to your comments that you don’t always agree with me, that is a good thing. Having said that I have written over 90 posts with significant information for the public that is FACT. While there is a little opinion thrown in I am very proud of my list of achievements, a list recently published in my BLOG. For anyone disagreeing with me I encourage a comment fed back to me accordingly and we can have a healthy discussion and/or debate.

      All the best Rick

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