Communities and Coal organizers say they are finding increasing numbers of local residents with concerns about perceived hazards of increased thermal-coal train traffic.

Coal-train crusaders pick up steam

Communities and Coal says it is gathering momentum as other cities join the fight against thermal coal train traffic

Communities and Coal is gaining momentum in its opposition to the proposed Direct Coal Transfer Facility at Fraser Surrey Docks.

That’s the word from Ocean Park resident Paula Williams, co-organizer of the grassroots network of South Surrey residents, who said it managed to gain 7,600 signatures for its petition in its first 18 days of canvassing.

“It’s picking up,” she said. “People are waking up. I don’t think they realized before what this was all about.”

The group’s campaign about perceived health and quality-of-life impacts from thermal-coal dust from trains coming from the U.S. –  set to double if the new transfer facility is approved by Port Metro Vancouver – started with a town-hall meeting in Ocean Park six weeks ago.

After residents heard, and heeded, warnings from guest speakers Eoin Madden of the Wilderness Committee and Dr. Frank James of a group of physicians in Washington State – instrumental in blocking a similar coal-transfer facility there – the group was formalized, Williams said.

Advocates of the transfer facility – including the Surrey Board of Trade – maintain it will be a huge benefit to the economy, that topping coatings that will be applied to the cargo reduce dust by 85 per cent,  and that a sealed water-spraying system at the planned facility will significantly reduce dust emissions there.

Williams said she recognizes that efforts will be made to mitigate coal dust, but said Communities and Coal members fear it won’t be enough to outweigh adverse effects.

“We’ve had some negative feedback, calling people from South Surrey NIMBYs,” Williams acknowledged. “We’re not trying to ship this off to some other place – we don’t want it for anyone. We’re questioning what this is and what it will do, taking a look at things that haven’t been looked at for a long time.”

The signatures collected to this point –including those gathered at the Spirit of the Sea Festival, the Tsawwassen Sun Festival, White Rock Farmers’ Market and Ocean Park Farmers’ Market – indicate there is no consensus on the issue, she said.

And Williams said that rather than dividing communities, the campaign is bringing them closer to like-minded groups and helping spark the creation of others in Surrey, Delta and New Westminster.

“This thing is starting to spread,” she said, adding Communities and Coal’s most recent meeting in Ocean Park on Aug. 6 drew community leaders from such areas as Surrey’s Panorama Ridge and New Westminster.

“They’re going to have their own town-hall meetings and use the Communities and Coal name and campaign with our petition and replicate what we have done.”

Williams said Communities and Coal is prepared to listen to information from the industrial side of the argument.

“What we’re saying is let’s get all the information out there,” she said.

“If Port Metro Vancouver and Fraser Surrey Docks want to, they can have a public hearing and clear the air about it.”

Williams said Communities and Coal is not against industry, or all coal shipments – its focus is on US thermal coal that will be shipped from B.C. to Asia.

She noted, for instance that a woman from North Vancouver who spoke at the most recent meeting was discussing the impacts of metallurgical coal from the Neptune Terminals, including plummeting property values in nearby areas on the North Shore.

“We’re not fighting metallurgical coal, or trying to stop all coal shipments, although her comments about the impacts from being so close to a terminal are very interesting.”

 

Just Posted

Surrey firefighters not among 267 being sent to battle Alberta wildfires

‘We haven’t been called upon to be deployed,’ Surrey Fire Chief Len Garis told the Now-Leader on Tuesday

Surrey man charged with impersonating cop in Newton

Harmit Johal, 42, is charged with one count of impersonating a peace officer and two counts of fraud

Man pleads guilty to Surrey crash that killed two Abbotsford women

Sarah Dhillon and Paige Nagata died following head-on collision on Nov. 4, 2018

Mother of accused charged in connection to Surrey teen’s murder

Manjit Kaur Deo charged with ‘accessory after the fact’ in 2017 death of Bhavkiran Dhesi

Killer of Calgary mother, daughter gets no parole for 50 years

A jury found Edward Downey guilty last year in the deaths of Sara Baillie, 34, and five-year-old Taliyah Marsman

Raptors beat Bucks 120-102 to even series at 2-2

Lowry pours in 25 as Toronto moves within two games of NBA Finals

Body of missing snowmobiler recovered from Great Slave Lake

Police confirm the body is that of one of three missing snowmobilers

Toddler seriously injured after falling from Okanagan balcony

RCMP are investigating after a two-year-old boy fell from the balcony of an apartment in Kelowna

Fraser Valley chef sentenced to seven years for million-dollar drug operation

Raymon Ranu has been working as a cook since he was arrested for selling fentanyl and cocaine

Cost jumps 35% for Trans-Canada Highway widening in B.C.

Revelstoke-area stretch first awarded under new union deal

Is vegan food a human right? Ontario firefighter battling B.C. blaze argues it is

Adam Knauff says he had to go hungry some days because there was no vegan food

Winds helping in battle against fire threatening northern Alberta town

Nearly 5,000 people have cleared out of High Level and nearby First Nation

Most Read