Prince Rupert Mayor Jack Mussallem has accused CN and the Prince Rupert Port Authority of failing to live up to their commitment to the community.
“While generally supportive of the Fairview Terminal Phase II Expansion Project, Prince Rupert City Council is concerned that a number issues may negatively impact residents who live near the terminal location… Prince Rupert City Council is concerned that previously made commitments by project proponents have not been met and there seems to be little recourse for members of the public when commitments during environmental review processes are made but not implemented,” reads a Nov. 14 letter obtained by the Prince Rupert Northern View, which is signed by the mayor.
The letter points to the environmental screening document completed in 2006, which said that trains would not be using the level crossing leading to the BC Ferries terminal but would depart south from the terminal site and that the Prince Rupert Port Authority would create a phone line people could call to complain about noise and establish procedures for dealing with those complaints.
“Unfortunately none of these statements have stood the test of time. To this day trains are moving into the Prince Rupert downtown rail yard and a noise complaint phone number has not been established,” reads the letter.
However, a search of the Prince Rupert Port Authority website shows a Community Comment Line phone number in the “Contact Information” section of the site. The Prince Rupert Northern View called the phone number, which greets callers with a message indicating that messages are checked daily and all are recorded and directed to the appropriate departments. Further, the message asks callers to leave a phone number or e-mail address so the Prince Rupert Port Authority can follow up on the concerns.
The City also calls into doubt the assurance that “noise and vibration are predicted to be not significant” found in the Comprehensive Study for Phase II based on the operation of Phase I.
“Prince Rupert city council understands what the proponents are stating in regards to potential increase in rail traffic noise the Fairview Phase II Expansion Project will create, but remains skeptical of their predictions based on an uneven track record of being able to foresee accurately how operations will eventually evolve… As the proponent was unable to predict the amount of traffic entering into the downtown Prince Rupert rail yard for the initial phase of developing the Fairview Container Port, what assurances can the City and members of the public count on regarding predictions regarding noise and vibration mitigation strategies this time around?”
Mayor Mussallem also questions whether the Prince Rupert Port Authority should be involved in the expansion decision at all.
“Council also notes that the Federal responsible authority for the Fairview Terminal Phase II Expansion Project Environmental Assessment is the Prince Rupert Port Authority itself. The Prince Rupert Port Authority is also identified as a proponent and this appears to be a direct conflict of interest. Council is concerned that these facts may undermine the credibility of the Environmental Review process,” it reads.
The Prince Rupert Port Authority said it will not be publicly commenting on the contents of the letter.
“The Port Authority will be responding directly to the City about its concerns,” said Manager of Corporate Communications Michael Gurney.
The letter was addressed to Prince Rupert Port Authority Vice-president of Project Management Lorne Keller, Project Manager Bryan Nelson and CN’s System Manager of Environmental Assessment Luanne Patterson.