Pitt Meadows has voiced their displeasure over a proposed railway line in the city, but approval of the plans are out of the municipality’s control.
Canadian Pacific Kansas City, formerly known as CP, has not adequately assessed the impact a third railway line will have on the city’s residents, according to Justin Hart, manager of projects at the city of Pitt Meadows, in a report presented to council last week.
On March 31, CPKC sent a notice of railway works to Pitt Meadows that outlined their intention to build a third rail line south of the company’s existing tracks.
The city estimates the new railway track will be 7.5 metres from residential buildings — which may cause ground destabilization, noise, and changes to drainage paths that could lead to flooding, according to Hart.
Site work on the new track line will also be within two metres of residents, according to the city’s report.
“The city has concerns regarding the introduction of multiple bends to siding, lead, and mainline tracks, without proposing a reduction to the rails’ speed limits,” Hart stated at the May 30 council meeting.
The Railway Association of Canada and Federation of Canadian Municipalities both have guidelines that encourage a minimum of 15 metres between residential dwellings and railway tracks.
In a letter addressed to Omar Alghabra, the Minister of Transport, the city added that CPKC had declined their requests to provide additional information about the railway project in public forums such as a town hall.
As CPKC is a federally regulated company, Pitt Meadows doesn’t have a final say on decisions related to infrastructure on the railway corridor. However, through their own report, the city can persuade the Minister of Transport to mandate CPKC to conduct more mitigation measures — including geotechnical testing, noise and vibration assessments, and an air quality and stormwater management report — before the project gets underway.
Pitt Meadows councillors praised Hart’s report.
Specifically, after seeing the report, Coun. Bob Meachen questioned how the proposed railway project could move forward.
“I guess the question is if this is so dangerous, or detrimental to the quality of life, how could this possibly be approved?” he said.
In an email to The Ridge, CPKC stated they had received Pitt Meadows’ report and are reviewing it.
“CPKC is reviewing and responding to inquiries from impacted residents,” wrote Salem Woodrow, media relations and community affairs manager with CPKC.
“In addition, CPKC will provide any additional information required by Transport Canada as part of the Notice of Railway Works process.”
After Pitt Meadows submitted their letter on May 25, Minister Alghabra now has 60 days to review the case and make a decision on whether to heed or reject the city’s additional mitigation requests for CPKC.
Coun. Gwen O’Connell said the city’s letter had been one of the most talked about topics in Pitt Meadows leading up to the May 30 council meeting.
She said she hopes to continue fighting on behalf of their residents, and other communities who have been similarly impacted throughout the country.
“CP is an extremely powerful group with the federal government. Many communities have been overrun by this, but we’re Pitt Meadows. We’re going to do this best we can because we are that little engine going up the hill,” Coun. O’Connell said.
“In Pitt Meadows, we just keep fighting the fight.”