Democracy is not a spectator sport

Editor: Thanks for reporting on the move of the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe coal trains from the White Rock line to Langley (The Times, July 8).

As you noted, this was not expected, and yet we in our area will pay for the sins of others.

It’s not like we don’t already get plenty of trains.

The fact is, even the empty coal trains emit coal dust residue, causing health and environmental implications.

Gus Melonas of Burlington Northern and Santa Fe states: “Safety is the number one priority.”

Do we feel safe? Our children and all who breathe anywhere within five kilometres of the tracks are not safe.

Or maybe they are. Only a proper Health Impact Assessment will tell.

But let’s be real here, if safety was the issue, BNSF would be rolling over in support of the call for a Health Impact Assessment, called for by all major medial authorities.

This includes BC Provincial Health head Dr. Perry Kendal and Fraser Health, as well as major studies such as the one by Dr. Jaffee in Seattle, which replicates the conditions that we will face in Lower Mainland municipalities facing the proposal for coal handling at Fraser Surrey Docks.

We all know that safety takes a back seat to profits — that is the way.

And, of course, in a capitalist society we need the profits. But we also need our health insured as much as we can.

Thus the need  for proper health assessments before these proposals are approved.

Again, thanks for covering this story. Without coverage most people have no clue.

An informed public is fundamental to a functioning democracy. To request the federal and provincial governments do their jobs, send emails demanding the BC Ministries of Health and Environment  and the Federal Ministry of Transport as well as Ministry of the Environment  make a Health Impact Assessment happen.

Following are email addresses to four ministries which could require an HIA to be done.

Terry Lake, Minister of Health (hlth.minister@gov.bc.ca)

Mary Polak, Langley MLA and  Minister of Environment (ENV.Minister@gov.bc.ca).

Lisa Raitt, Federal Minister of Transport (mintc@tc.gc.ca)

Leona Aglukkaq, Fed Minister of Environment (Minister@ec.gc.ca)

Taking for granted that the government will do the right thing does not cut it; diligence is the job of citizens, as democracy is not a spectator sport.

Steven Faraher-Amidon,


We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.