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Comments from 

Councillor Nicole MacDonald

My Dec 8th comments on CPs proposed Intermodal Yard Expansion:

Last week Council was advised by CP Rail regarding their proposed expansion to their intermodal rail yard in Pitt Meadows. This is not just an expansion of a rail yard: this is the transformation of 100 acres of land, much of it agricultural, into an industrial compound which will house large grain silos, an expansive automotive lot, and liquid fuels and commodities. The concerns are exponential, diverse and not limited to:

  • Extreme fire and safety hazards 

  • Environmental concerns and impacts to air, water and land 

  • Negative health affects to the residents and community

  • Noise and sound impacts

  • Increase and the unknowns with vehicle and rail traffic volumes 

  • Quality of life affects and site impacts will be enormous to surrounding neighbours and the entire community

CP informed Council on Dec 1st of this project, they released their proposal to the public on the 2nd. Mail fliers were delivered to households that day – the first Open House is tonight and again on December 12th. Feedback is open until Jan 15. I have major concern with the quickness, transparency, and agenda of this community engagement. I have also heard concerns and criticisms to the survey form and directed questions to the CP online survey. I urge residents to voice and write your concerns and oppositions in full form to CP Rail and the City.

Mayor and Council immediately released our unanimous and unequivocal opposition to this industrial expansion in Pitt Meadows. We believe we represent the vast majority of Pitt Meadows residence with this stance.

I have over the last couple of days heard criticism that Mayor and Council are not doing anything about this, and that we are simply rolling over to CP. Nothing is further from the truth! 

Under the leadership of Mayor Dingwall and CAO Roberts Council immediately voiced our opposition to CP, when this did little to resonant or cause change, we released our opposition publicly to CPs proposal.

Mayor Dingwall immediately alerted Federal Government officials to the plans and our opposition. He engaged, to name some:

  • Minister of Infrastructure Garneau 

  • Chief Grace George Katzie First Nation

  • Provincial Minister Lisa Beare

  • Federal MLA Marc Dalton

  • Provincial Minister of Infrastructure Fleming 

  • Federal and Provincial Ministers of the Environment

  • Immediate Mayoral neighbours Morden and West

  • The Mayors Council

  • Metro Vancouver

  • The Agricultural Land Commission

  • Legal Council, and 

  • Most importantly our residents

We have been advised by Federal Officials the expansion of the logistics yard“ is a CP business decision” and not a Federal Government matter. Clearly there are different rules for CP than the rest of us. I sit as a Liaison on our Agricultural Advisory Committee. To get land pulled out of the ALC is a cumbersome process, rightly so,  as the ALCs mandate is to protect agricultural land and agricultural interests above all else.

Importantly, the City of Pitt Meadows has been engaged in good faith negotiations for approximately 3 years with CP Rail and the Ports on the Provincially and Federally funded Road and Rail Project. The lack of disclosure on this behemoth project is an insult to the City and its residents. Currently train volume is 40 trains a day; and anticipated to increase to 65 trains a day in the not to distant future. Length, volume and shunting will all increase as well. This is without the impact of the intermodal expansion.

Some say we can just say no to the Harris Underpass. Yes, Harris Road is in our jurisdiction, but the CP lines are not and CP can and will expand their rail lines if needed for National and International need. It is absolutely imperative we are at the table: we have not wavered in our commitment to sound and site mitigation, protection of our heritage buildings, zero dollars to contribute, traffic flow through the construction phase, air quality assessment, and more.

CP can expand rail lines at grade (without an underpass) which would only impact traffic flow more, increase safety issues, devastate local businesses, and impede emergency response. The result would be to essentially cut the community in half. 

And do not underestimate the heavy hand of the Canadian Transportation Agency and the National overreaching priority of international goods, transport and trade that could force these projects through. Again, it is essential we are at the table.

Furthermore, while I wish the Kennedy overpass and Harris underpass were the aces up our sleeve and if we withheld these it would force CPs hand to take their logistic park elsewhere - this is simply not the case. Stating this, is not giving up!

Mayor Dingwall said it last night and said it extremely well. We are not here to make false promises. We are here to give honest communication and share the real facts around these projects.

This does not mean we roll over. Although as a municipality our Order of Government on this issue is subservient to Provincial and most importantly Federal mandates we will continue to lobby Federal and Provincial decision-makers, demand environmental assessments, raise issues regarding fire, safety, hazards and health. We will work collaboratively with KFN and our neighbouring communities and we will raise our opposition with the ALC.

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