LETTERS: Our city by the tracks

Changes are coming to the foreshore. - File photo
Changes are coming to the foreshore.
— image credit: File photo


So, let me get this right. We are paying BNSF $400,000 so that we cannot have access to West Beach.

If BNSF and its front man, Transport Canada, really want to make it safe for BNSF/Amtrak and us, then there is only one, obvious solution – rail relocation.

Will this be enough to wake up the people south of the Fraser to get them to understand the implications that they are in the process of losing one of the few places they can get to the foreshore?

It is a terrible omen of what is coming – very restricted access to the beach with more and longer trains following right behind.

The ‘City by the Sea?’ More like the ‘City by the Tracks.’

Hannah Newman, White Rock

• • •

Continuing to make beach access difficult is not the answer.

Rerouting dangerous goods cargo away from the Crescent Beach/ White Rock corridor is paramount in protecting this densely populated area. It is not necessary to relocate the tracks. Move dangerous goods through the Sumas crossing and along the CPR/CNR rail corridor already established.

If you review the manifests of cargoes, you will note that a disaster along this waterfront is only a matter of time. We need action now.

Paul Hough, Surrey

• • •

Over the years, 19 people have been killed by trains in White Rock.

Why, now, is there this quick and secretive push to try to keep beachgoers away from the seaside?

Without any public consultation, without any public awareness, apparently Transport Canada has decreed ‘Our City by the Sea’ off-limits to the public.

It was great disbelief that on June 5 I discovered the six pathways allowing people – parents guiding their swimsuited small children, high spirited teens, the kayakers, paddle boarders, kite-surfers, the elderly, the disabled and me – to cross over the train tracks had been closed.

To the unknown eye, any history of those city-sanctioned rail crossings had been obliterated by masterful matching of railings, paint and even wipeouts of the footpaths!

How could this happen? How could it happen with such secrecy?

Being a White Rock council watcher and activist – and even having attended some of the Rail Safety Committee meetings – I consider myself very aware of what is happening in White Rock, but this was out of nowhere.

I watched two longtime, elderly, swimsuited female locals clamber up from the beach dragging a prized piece of driftwood for their garden. “Damn train,” they muttered, as they crawled through the two sets of railings, over the tracks with much ado and difficulty. Far more dangerous than looking both ways and walking across the tracks.

Upon a call to an ‘insider,’ I was informed of more to come. And there it was on Monday, a little White Rock mobile cart sporting the phrase ‘Our City by the Sea’ guarding the newly installed posts that would soon be part of a locked gate, keeping our tax supported boat launch off limits to our citizens.

Wait there is more. A six-foot fence is scheduled to be installed at the opposite end – at East Beach.

This is Canada. Why is an American rail line, BNSF, given preference over the only recreational beach front south of the Fraser? People come from Surrey, Langley, Abbotsford and farther afield to enjoy ‘Our City by the Sea.’

We know that Bakken oil, chlorine gas and many other deadly cargoes are being carried on this line through one of the most densely populated areas in B.C. It is past time to move the line!

White Rock needs to become a city of “Rails to Trails,” so that all people can come and enjoy the spectacular beauty of the Salish Sea and the Semiahmoo Peninsula.

Maybe the federal government needs to step up to the plate and make this a federal park.

Susan Potzold, White Rock

• • •

Re: BNSF to close West Beach waterfront railing gaps, May 27.

How is it that an American railway company can prevent White Rock’s Canadian citizens from accessing its own beach front?

Let’s not forget that White Rock pays BNSF over $400,000 per annum for its favours.

Equally breathtaking is White Rock council’s secret acquiescence to BNSF, the suppression of any notification and the unwillingness to furnish the order they claim they received from Transport Canada.

(Editor’s note: Monday, Transport Canada released two orders under the safety act and one joint notice for the city and BNSF, dated June 6.)

They even refuse to honour their obligations under freedom of information act.

Does this council not realize that parking revenue is going to be adversely affected as access to the beach becomes more difficult?

And, we all know who will be on the hook to make up any revenue shortfall as a result, don’t we?

Does this council seriously think that everyone is going to walk the extra mile, with their children, chairs and coolers, etc., in order to access the beach rather than by simply than climbing over or squeezing through the railings?

If this council has nothing to hide, why is it being so secretive?

Given what is at stake for the White Rock citizens and tourist revenue, the whole affair stinks. As a result, one suspects they will be equally complicit when the ‘other shoe drops.’ High chain-link fences and controlled barriers have been installed by BNSF south of the border. Perhaps we’ll have an overhead footbridge to reach the pier.

The situation is yet one more example of the dictatorial approach that prevails in White Rock.

Keith G. Knightson, White Rock



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