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White Rock councillor warns public not to push beach gate issue

WHITE ROCK — While the lock on the recently erected gates at the west beach boat launch have been removed and public access once more allowed, Coun. Alan Campbell is reminding the public not to push the issue.

According to Campbell, who sits on the city’s rail safety task force, as the city continues to work with Transport Canada and railway owner Burlington Northern Santa Fe to resolve the issue, residents can do their bit by adhering to the rules and staying off the tracks in the meantime.

“We’re at the municipal level and we’re dealing with this provincially and federally – as well with the United States,” he said. “So it moves slowly and you’ve got to get all your ducks in a row.”

Campbell said the recent orders from Transport Canada were likely due to the death of jogger Anita Lewis last July, a senior citizen recently being struck by a train in February, as well as the continued focus on coal trains and dangerous good transportation in the community. As a result, Campbell said while the intention of the latter two topics is to enact change, it was inevitable that they would also highlight people’s behaviours around the tracks.

“What happens is that the bear has been poked, and when you poke the bear BNSF and Transport Canada come down to meet with us to see what we can do to mitigate the safety issues,” he said. “So BNSF came for a walk and were astonished to see people walking on the tracks, crossing where they shouldn’t as was Transport Canada.”

As a result, BNSF requested the city put up additional railings on the tracks a few weeks back, which it did and then just last week Transport Canada ordered a two-metre tall gate be erected at the west beach boat launch. The gate lock was later removed Friday, allowing residents to continue passing through the launch so long as the gates remained closed after use.

“Closing the boat launch was a real stinger for us,” said Campbell.

In addition, the city has released several proposed points of action to be undertaken in order to have the current restriction of access removed. Those points include the installation of signs and painted lines and text on both sides of the tracks, ‘no parking’ markings added to the north side of the track and replacing the railway crossing sign on the south side of the track.

“So we’re going to get back to it but you have to be aware if you poke the bear there’s going to be consequences,” said Campbell.

“In the meantime the general public continue every day to break the rules, they go under the rails and over the rails, they run across in front of trains and they need to stop.I know people get frustrated but that’s how it is with government, it’s a lot of phone calls, meetings, correspondence.”