URGENT ACTION ITEM
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My talking points from our Council meeting this past Tuesday, Dec. 8th, 2020 regarding CP's intention to open a 100 acre industrial park in Pitt Meadows - including fuel storage and grain silos. Long but provides a lot of context.
For the past 3 plus years, the past City Council and our current Council have been negotiating in good faith and in the best interests of our community with the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority – the lead, and Canadian Pacific on the $141m under/overpasses and rail extensions as part of the 28 year old intermodal yard in Pitt Meadows.
Last Tuesday, Dec. 1st, our Council was briefed for the first time on CPs desire to open an industrial logistics park south of the current intermodal yard and it would include large storage tanks for fuels including ethanol, large silos for grain/agriculture storage and a large scale auto mall on 100 acres they purchased in 2011 and 2017, and that they intended on issuing their press release the following day to start immediate public engagement.
I would describe it like receiving a blind-side stomach punch to Council, to our staff and most importantly to our community.
After receiving legal advice, we are aware that we have no decision making role with respect to,
Removing these farmlands from the Agricultural Land Reserve; and,
Land use and Zoning approval,
Nor regarding issuing development or building permits.
Federal Minister Garneau framed it as a “business decision by CP.”
While we have no approval authorities as previously mentioned, we as a Council do believe there is a lot that collectively we can do to try and influence different decisions and outcomes. This includes:
All of us responding clearly and strongly our complete opposition to the industrial proposal at every CP engagement opportunity (town halls, surveys, website, etc.) along with fuel storage and grain/agricultural silos;
That you consider signing one of several on-line petitions as I have done;
Write to the City or to senior representatives directly with your concerns and when we receive them, we will batch up and forward to Federal Min. Garneau – Min. of Transport and the Canadian Transportation Agency, our Provincial Minister of Transport, MP Dalton, Min. Beare, Chief George Katzie First Nation and senior representatives from Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, Canadian Pacific and the ALC;
As noted by the recommended motion in the agenda around environment/air quality, after tonight’s vote, the City will likely be hiring our own consultant to determine base line air quality numbers, comparing to current Federal threshold levels, as well as advocating for higher standards and demanding new generation engine technology;
Reach out to the media and continue social media posts to enhance transparency and context to this proposal;
The city will continue to post important contact information, engagement sessions, or reference materials to help provide transparency and important dates or additional context.
I am also confident that our community will also provide other suggestions that will help our fight against this industrial park.
I will now open up the floor to each member of Council to take a few minutes to express their outrage and concerns. And at the end, I will circle back on the industrial park and talk about the under/overpass and rail extension initiative.
. . . . . .
As mentioned, the “Comparative Site Evaluation – CP Logistics Park: Vancouver Pitt Meadows, B.C.” was prepared for CP on May 24th, 2017. It is a foundational/justification piece for CPs business decision.
In my view and others, there are many incorrect and flawed assumptions and conclusions contained within and this would be a good place to try and influence a different outcome.
(p. 6-8) 4 of 7 sites examined were in PM and predictably, the “strategic lands” purchased by CP in 2011 and 2017 was the selected site.
(p. 12) “no constraints” on access to truck routes – yet we already have 950/day with the intermodal yard (p.12), an extremely busy intersection at the Lougheed and “Kennedy Road” not built to handle excessive truck traffic;
(p. 14) For “access to emergency services” they did not have substantial constraints even as an option and indicated PM was “moderate”. Fuel and grain storage is deemed a “high hazard” by fire departments and increases public safety risks, preferably requires 6 fire fighters 24/7 (total of 24) along with specialized equipment and training. With the planned increase in 2021 PM will have 8 front line firefighters or 1/3 of what is required by the National Fire Protection Association standards.
(p. 17) Watercourses or Wetlands – “Moderate Constraints” yet we have the Katzie Slough that flows to a major Pitt River Pump
(p. 18 ecological attributes – “moderate risk” including our rare blue heron but does not even note eagles, geese, etc.;
(p. 20) Distance from Residential – “No constraints” greater than 300m – just need to look at the photos;
(p. 21) Proximity to Community Amenity over 1km – no constraints, yet we have the metro Pitt River Greenway dyke trail and our own BMX track;
(p. 22) Archeological and Cultural Resources – moderate constraints with one on the banks of the adjacent Pitt River and two historic residences (Sutton Family); and notes that “it is possible that unrecorded sites may exist within the parcel”.
Regarding the under/overpass and rail extension, it is not as simple as just saying no to the $141m project. Context is not only important but critical to making informed decisions.
The intermodal yard has been there for 28 years and since then, train volumes have dramatically increased to what we are experiencing today.
There will be another 1 million people forecasted to come to the Metro area in the next 20 years
Forecasts for train traffic, which includes building longer trains, will be continuously increasing from the current 40 a day to over 65 in the next 20 years and this does not include the 100 acre industrial park.
Given Federal and Canadian Transportation Agency jurisdiction, the historic deference to railroad operations since confederation, and the critical priority and societal necessity of national and international transportation of goods, CP can seek federal approvals to build increased capacity which could include track expansion along the corridor and even additional at grade tracks over Harris Road. Our museum may not be considered for a move and I highlight that the city will still be responsible for the crossing maintenance.
There are two CP “main lines” travelling through our community and while we don’t have grain and fuel storage – which brings a significantly higher public safety risk, these commodities are being transported across the country as we speak and including through our City. I will add that with the 2 main lines, if the industrial park was built, these tracks could also bring those commodities which means more times when Harris is blocked.
For the past 3+ years we have been at the table and trying to influence decisions in the best interests of our community.
enhanced public health and safety along with improved response times with an underpass that has been discussed by Councils for the past 4 decades – no question this will save lives and improve health and safety outcomes
noise/sight mitigation fencing to help quality of life for those living along the tracks;
environmental mitigation and advocacy,
reducing congestion and GHG emissions and smog while improving reliability with respect to commuting and travel;
keeping Harris Road open during construction,
and relocating our heritage buildings into a village setting.
I want to reiterate that during our conversations and negotiations, never were there any discussions about adding an industrial park.
At this stage, there are no costs associated to the City for planning, design and construction and the first binding contract would be the “design agreement”.
I can assure you that if Council does not feel we have achieved a reasonable agreement for our community, we will be exploring options that include not signing.
This would no doubt trigger Ports, CP and the Federal Government to regroup and consider their options through the CTA without City involvement or the City being able to influence potential outcomes as though we were at the table. This would undoubtedly delay any project, but the trains will continue to come; Harris will continue to be more congested and there will remain health and safety risks.
The role of Council in this case is not an easy one and I can assure you that since learning of their plans, there have been many stressful hours and sleepless nights. While there are strong forces at play and we as a Council remain united in our vehement opposition to the industrial park.
We have invited Mike Lovecchio from CP, to our Council meeting next week to provide their thoughts on the proposed industrial park.
Now to our CAO, Mr. Roberts to introduce the motion on hiring our own consultant to complete a report on air quality baseline data, outlining current Federal thresholds, and potential implications with increase train traffic.