A Port Edward resident’s ability to access his home has been thrown off the rails by CN’s siding project.
David Norman, who has lived at his property off Skeena Dr. for 29 years, says he will have access to his home blocked for several months during the construction of a double set of tracks and potentially much longer if a proper rail crossing isn’t installed.
Although Norman does not have an official street address, a copy of the original Crown Grant (deed to the land) shows his home predates the railway by a year-and-a-half, giving it historical right of access.
Norman lives approximately one kilometre west of The North Pacific Cannery.
He normally gets blocked by trains on the single track that is currently in place, however, he never pressed the issue, wanting to live a quiet life.
“I’ve lived with it and I haven’t objected to it. I’ve called people and said, ‘I’m sorry, doctor, I can’t get into my appointment until the train moves.’ I haven’t pressed the point. But when they’re going to completely block my access, I have no choice,” he said.
“Right now they block me eight to 12 hours a day and I come home and I have to wait two to three hours. They have to eventually move it because there’s only one track. But when there’s two tracks they won’t move it.”
Norman says everyday tasks such as getting groceries will be more difficult with a train parked in front of his road almost 24 hours per day. He is also worried that situations may arise where he might require emergency medical care.
Norman’s only options would be to reach his waterfront home by boat during high tides, or to jump the track. Given that he has disability issues and does not want to do anything illegal, neither situation is an option.
“CN is currently in discussions with the landowner and his renter regarding the work CN is doing as well as the unsanctioned railway crossing on CN property in Port Edward. As safety is a shared responsibility, we will continue to work with the landowner to resolve this issue,” stated CN.
There is a flat ramp connecting the end of Norman’s property to the road.
|A ramp connects the end of Norman’s walkway to the track and onto Skeena Dr. (Jenna Cocullo / The Northern View)|
Norman said he only got CN’s attention by parking his car in front of the excavator to halt construction. Prior to that, he spent five months without a response to his 12 emails sent to the company. Three months ago he finally heard back from a representative stating that she was waiting for her legal team to respond.
“They didn’t acknowledge receipt of my email. Nothing. And they still wouldn’t have talked to me, had I not parked my car. It seems to be CN’s modus operandi. They go ahead and do whatever they want. And then if you, as a citizen, have the ability and legal knowledge to pursue it, then they’ll make reparation. But that’s not the way it’s supposed to be done.”
Finally the response he got was that CN was not aware there was a house in the vicinity, and the contractors should have known.
“It is a surveyed street that existed since before the railway. They can’t say that they didn’t know about it,” Norman said, also adding that the contractors have been understanding to his situation, and believes that CN is trying to place blame elsewhere.
David Gobeil, a representative of Hatch Engineering, one of two contractors working on the new track, said the company had no comment on the situation. Progus Construction could not be reached for comment.
The District of Port Edward said they are aware of the property owner’s complaints and that CN is attempting to resolve the issue, as it is not in the district’s jurisdiction.
As of yet, Norman and his landlord have not engaged with a lawyer because he would rather sit down and talk it out without escalating the situation.
“I just want to sit on the porch. You know, have a coffee.”
Jenna Cocullo | Journalist
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