LETTER: Railway located in worst of all possible locations

The Editor,

Re: "Don’t like the trains? Do homework first, or move like I did," Now letters, Sept. 16.

I see the embittered A. Rose has managed to get another rail-related rant into print.

This time around, A. Rose’s analysis of the situation is basically this: Mayor Baldwin is making noise about railway relocation now, for no other reason than to distract from other issues in preparation for election time. And, those White Rock "elites" knew the tracks were there when they moved in and now should just live with their decision. Oh, and by the way, don’t even think about moving the tracks out where I live.

May I suggest that Rose just doesn’t get it? To add some perspective to his observations, it should be noted that Mayor Baldwin has been talking about this for a long time and, in my opinion, is doing what a good politician should be doing in representing his constituents.

As for the alleged "elite," while it may be difficult to elicit any sympathy from the less fortunate, I’m sure many of them had no idea that the rail traffic would expand as it has.

Anyway, while some of the alleged "elites" may be disturbed by train noise, that is not the primary motivation for relocation.

Various reasons for relocation have been printed many times, but let me try to explain a few of the factors again.

The railway also passes through the Semiamoo First Nations reserve. And no, these "elites" did not know the tracks would be there when they first set up camp. Yes, we can always tell them they should move.

The railway route effectively cuts off the seaside community of Crescent Beach, so that in the event of a disaster, a stalled or derailed train could potentially prevent emergency response vehicles from attending. Yes, yes, I know. These "elites" should have checked that out before moving there. And anyway, it’s a long way from your back yard.

Pedestrian safety is a great concern, and this is a concern also for the thousands of pedestrian tourists who visit White Rock and Crescent Beach each year. I know, they should all learn to read and stay off the tracks. In fact, why don’t we just close the entire area to tourists? Seriously, it is simply not good enough to say "use at your own risk" when this hazard can be eliminated by moving the rails.

The railway passes under an unstable slope which each year requires some rail service interruption and clearing work. With increased rail traffic comes an increased risk of a catastrophic derailment.

The railway passes alongside the environmentally-sensitive waters of Boundary Bay, an important stopover for migrating birds, not to mention sea life. The rail also crosses two rivers at their widest points where the bridges are most vulnerable and the potential for disaster is greatest. Are you concerned about the cost of relocation? Try calculating the cost of a major clean up in the bay. Yes, A. Rose, I know. You do not live beside the ocean.

The bottom line is that all of these concerns can be mitigated by relocating to a safer, less populated route where a train derailment is much less likely to occur, where pedestrians are not constantly crossing the tracks, and any potential train disaster can be much more easily contained. It must be obvious to any impartial observer that the current railway is located in the worst of all possible locations.

J. Drent

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