Two trains of thought over coal
Re: More coal trains unacceptable: mayor, March 12.
I congratulate White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin for seeking council support regarding coal trains; however, I was confused by comments made by Coun. Al Campbell.
Campbell agrees with the concern but does not feel we have much clout and recommends making a lot of noise.
Coun. Campbell, we need more than noise. We need leadership from council to develop a strategy. Your comment, that BNSF will have to find another route eventually, is reactive and wishful rather than proactive.
If, as Campbell suggests, railway is a federal matter, then council should identify who they should contact on the federal level and get them to understand our issues. Individuals making ‘noise’ have less impact than a whole council representing the concerns of the city.
In 2010, I wrote to the city asking them who was keeping track of the frequency of the trains, the length of the trains, environmental concerns, weight of the trains and trains hooting in the middle of the night. I was told railway was a federal matter, and I was given a phone number of a person at BNSF to raise my concerns.
I questioned then where the leadership of the city was. Three years later, the trains are longer, more frequent and no one want to address the open coal trains. Meanwhile, decisions to increase coal trains through White Rock were made without any consultation with the city.
The council should not be surprised. It has not been proactive and has taken on a passive position that federal government decides matters of railway.
It is still not too late to be proactive and look for ways to reach out to the federal government. The council will definitely have more impact than individual citizens.
Aroon Shah, White Rock
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I am writing in response to the grandstanding of Mayor Wayne Baldwin regarding the BNSF coal shipments that transit through the City of White Rock.
Coun. Al Campbell has hit the nail on the head in questioning the reach of the mayor in this regard.
The truth of the matter is that while it is a great moment for Baldwin to express concerns, he has absolutely no power over what is in fact going on.
The powers that be over railways in Canada are well enshrined in the Federal Railway Act, as seen when the CN Police were in attendance during the protest last spring regarding coal shipments, in concert with the local RCMP detachment (13 fined in rail protest, May 8).
The relationship between the city and BNSF is interesting, as to the issue of leased property towards parking revenues. It seems White Rock wants to lease the land to subsidize its tax base – a smart move perhaps with no voice at that time to a problem that was already front and centre being coal-train shipments.
If Baldwin and certain silent members of council wished to express these views, this might have been the most opportune time. The fact is that Baldwin speaks double-talk in saying that he has no control on a major casino project next door in the City of Surrey (White Rock mum on nearby casino plan, Nov. 29) but now wants to rule the Fraser Surrey Docks.
I call him on this as selective politics.
I say if you are serious, Mayor Baldwin, you are not in the correct ball park and a very small player at best as to what you might think you control.
Campbell is, in fact, correct in questioning the issue as to it being a federal matter not under your control.
Ron Eves, White Rock