White Rock mayor creates rail safety task force

WHITE ROCK – In the wake of a recent coal train derailment in Burnaby, White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin has created a special task force aimed at highlighting rail safety, paving the way for a delegation to Ottawa.

"I think something has to be done for sure. These stories just keep popping up all over the place and I think people used to have a feeling that rail safety is as safe as it possibly gets, but now that bubble is being burst and the perception of rail safety is changing and we have to respond to that and we’re working on that," said Baldwin.

The task force also follows an initiative started in the fall in partnership with the City of Surrey to look at rail safety along the waterfront and what could be done about the transfer of dangerous goods along that line.

"I always think there’s a parallel to be drawn here in the way we designate dangerous truck routes and dangerous goods rail routes," he said.

In November, White Rock council made a formal request to Canada’s Minister of Transpiration Lisa Raitt to enact stricter policy for the transport of dangerous goods through communities. The request was for municipalities to be able to receive data on when dangerous goods would be transported through communities, giving those municipalities extra information to prepare for an emergency. Shortly afterwards, Raitt announced communities would receive quarterly reports on dangerous goods being brought through communities, but still retroactive to the fact. Baldwin would like to see that changed.

"If we succeed in getting everything off the waterfront that would be great but my foremost concern would be the dangerous goods," he said.

Still in the early stages, the task force will be headed up by Coun. Grant Meyer and comprised of various stakeholders and members of the public. Meyer has said he will be contacting potential task force members shortly.

The ultimate goal, said Baldwin, is to send a delegation to Ottawa sometime this spring with the hope of raising the issue directly with the federal government.


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