Sunbury Neighbourhood Association

the Delta Optimist - Port Plan Didn't Mention Rail yard

Delta Optimist January 20, 2007

The federal government did not follow numerous legal requirements of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) when they reviewed port expansion at Deltaport.

The following is another example of where they failed.

Port plan didn't mention rail yard

By Maureen Gulyas

The Deltaport environmental assessment documents make no mention of the need for a new rail yard, a review by the Optimist has shown.

It's a fact that angers local politicians.

"I didn't see anything about this in the environmental assessment," Coun. Krista Engelland said. "They are industrializing our entire community."

Out of the thousands of pages of information, the rail component of the port development is just a few pages long.

"All of the rail improvements will be constructed within B.C. Rail's property on the Roberts Bank causeway and within their existing right-of-way," the Deltaport Third Berth Project assessment application states.

The B.C. Railway Company owns a 250-foot strip on the south side of the current rail line next to Deltaport Way.

John Lusney, the company's president of properties, confirmed it is exercising that option.

Farm families bought their land back in 1999 following government expropriation, knowing B.C. Railway owned a 10-year option. The option will run out in another two years.

B.C. Railway is after another 70 hectares (175 acres) of farmland to build a rail yard.

The absence of any details on a rail yard in the environmental assessment application worries politicians because the document was used by provincial and federal ministers to assess the impact of the overall project.

The application does make mention of an extension of two of the tracks - by 5,000 feet - where the rail line bends north by 64th Street in East Ladner. Coincidentally, that extension sits next to 62 hectares (153 acres) of land near Boundary Bay that will be turned over to the Tsawwassen First Nation once the treaty is finalized.

"They (Vancouver Port Authority) should have entertained a plan that laid absolutely everything out. That way, the public could have reviewed it and perhaps make a better project in the end," said a frustrated Mayor Lois Jackson.

It also angers farmer Peter Guichon that everything has been done behind closed doors.

"Why can't they just be open about it?" he asked.

Guichon said his family first heard of B.C. Railway's intentions for its land in a letter last fall.

The Deltaport documents maintain the number of trains will only increase by three, from 18 to 21 daily, once the third berth is operational. At least two of those trains will be 12,000-feet long. Most trains are between 6,000- and 7,000-feet in length.

published on 01/20/2007

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