WHITE ROCK â€” One week after the gates were installed at White Rockâ€™s west beach boat launch, Mayor Wayne Baldwin says he hopes to see them gone by the end of this week.
For now, the two-metre-high gates remain in place but the lock has been removed, a move Baldwin squarely attributes to the communityâ€™s response to the Transport Canada order issued at the beginning of last week.
â€œIf the public had simply folded and just shown total apathy about it, they might have succeeded in this but because the public did not that brought some pressure to bear so they (Transport Canada) were much more amenable to it,â€ said Baldwin.
The gates were installed last week following a missive sent by Transport Canada to the city ordering the immediate closure of public access to the site. The closure was to be the first part of a new set of safety measures ordered by Transport Canada following a safety review stemming from death of jogger Anita Lewis last July. Lewis was killed trying to cross the tracks while jogging along east beach.
After the initial closing of the boat launch and the backlash from the public, the city proposed a new plan that would lift the Transport Canada order.
â€œWe had some discussions with them and I think they recognize that this was maybe a little hastily conceived and brought forward so they have taken a much more reasonable approach,â€ said Baldwin.
The cityâ€™s proposal includes the installation of stops signs and painted stop lines on both sides of the tracks. They have also proposed painting a no-parking zone on the north side and Burlington Northern Santa Fe., the owner of the railroad, will be replacing the railway crossing signs on the south side of the tracks.
â€œWe have come up with some suggestions which I understand Transport Canada is OK with, so weâ€™ll be implementing those and hopefully the gates themselves will be removed by the end of the week,â€ said Baldwin.
According to Baldwin, city staff had received verbal approval from Transport Canada for the new plan and he said they will be starting work early this week.
â€œI view this as a victory for the public. Itâ€™s not a question of the city winning or Transport Canada winning itâ€™s more whatâ€™s in the best interest of the public,â€ said Baldwin.
For now, beach-goers using the gate at the boat launch are asked to ensure it remains closed after use.