Re: CNR, PRPA and Port Development
We are reminded virtually every day of our incredible good fortune to have port development taking place. There are, however, dark sides to this development that need to be addressed.
This community recently went through an emotional public review of the proposed pellet terminal. The Prince Rupert Port Authority (PRPA) was the government agency responsible for conducting this review, at the exclusion of the usual involvement of Environment and Health Canada. In spite of numerous objections to the development from a number of perspectives, the development has now been approved to proceed with virtually no recognition being given to the complaints raised, particularly with the size and location of this facility.
During the review process, CN’s plans to place barricades and fences around ‘their’ property were NOT identified. To the contrary, at the public meeting at the Lester Centre, an artistic drawing showed a paved roadway along the foreshore compete with a public sidewalk, trees and flowers. CN’s actions now are a total betrayal of what was presented to the public and the PRPA must accept responsibility for the lack of disclosure of this fundamental and important issue.
I disagree with the recent comments of those within our community, including a spokesperson from the PRPA, who suggest that CN owns their waterfront property and they are therefore free to do with it as they please. Society, cities and municipalities don’t, or at least should not, work that way. What CN is doing in this community greatly affects many people and so it becomes their responsibility to consider how their actions can best meet the wishes of the community. If this is not a legal responsibility it is certainly a moral, ethical and social responsibility.
Since the fire destroyed the central wharf in 1972, CN’s waterfront property in the area has remained a wasteland. 40 years after the fire, a fence is still in place complete with a CN sign, restricting access to the ‘beach area’ due to the contaminated gravel. The ‘beach area’, bordering where we have most of our community waterfront activities, consists of broken pieces of concrete with pieces of re-bar protruding dangerously into pathways and jagged pieces of steel as well as numerous sawn off creosote pilings extending from the gravel beach. All of this is along with the dusty, pot holed road which numerous residents have used regularly for walking and jogging and which has been spewing dust onto everyone for years. This central area of Prince Rupert’s waterfront should never have been allowed to remain in such a user unfriendly state for this period of time. It is also unnecessary and unacceptable that it now be barricaded and fenced. In short, CN needs to become a functioning member of this community.
Further, neither CNR nor the PRPA have ever offered an explanation to this community of their betrayal of the terms set out in the development plans for the container terminal. In the documentation submitted jointly by CNR and PRPA to the regulatory agencies for approval to proceed with this development it was explicitly and repeatedly stated that the rail traffic associated with the container terminal would not proceed north of the terminal. Since the first day of operations of this terminal, most if not all of this traffic has been shuffled to and from the inner city rail yard at great disturbance to this community. It is not only the excessive sounding of the mighty train whistles at all hours of the day and night and the thunderous noise created from the shunting of rail cars that has been of immense disturbance, but there is also the resulting interference from these rail movements to BC Ferries, Alaska Ferries, our Airport ferry service, VIA Rail, the floats at Fairview Bay, and those living in Dodge Cove.
To make matters far worse, there is a fivefold increase in rail traffic projected to occur with container terminal expansion, as well as the daily switches soon to begin for the pellet facility. The adverse effects these developments are having on our community are being ignored, including CN’s recent actions with placing barricades along the waterfront.
Port development needs to consider the interests of all parties and not just the developers, most of who do not, have not and never will live here. Residents of Prince Rupert deserve far better than this.