This is a response to a question to all Mayoral Candidates posted on the Municipal election page, found by clicking Here.
On September 10, 2007, the West Kieth Business Association addressed these concerns to the City Council of the day. Nothing has happened since then. They raised significant concerns about the upcoming completion of the Port at Prince Rupert. Read their concerns in detail by clicking here.
A full four years later, on September 19, 2011, BC Premier Christy Clark was in Prince Rupert to make a $90 million investment announcement. The specifics were rather convoluted but it falls out this way. CN would be committing one third, $30 million to roads and rail infrastructure. The Port of Prince Rupert (Mayer Terminals) was committing a third as well. The BC Government was only committing one half of the final third ($15 million). The federal government is expected to kick in the other $15 million.
When this announcement was made I asked Premier Clark about the specific use of these funds.
"On this 90 million dollar investment here, have you got specifics? I know that in Terrace they are looking for a rail overpass. We have a railway crossing here that could be part of CN's contribution, but do you have specifics on where this money is targeted?"
Premier Clark replied she could get the specifics to us on each of the partners contribution, and from the federal government should they decide to contribute, but could not answer directly. She then referred me to Minister Pat Bell. Bell did have specifics. All the money committed was specifically for the new "Break Bulk" and shipping terminal on Ridley Island. Nothing was set aside for the rail route.Read about the investment announcement here.
Of great concern to the citizens in Terrace should be this planned expansion. The plan is to increase the capacity by a factor of over 5. Five times the amount of rail traffic; from 18 million tons of cargo to 100 million tons. The implications are obvious.
Two crossings need to be constructed in Terrace. A pedestrian crossing wide enough for two lanes of pedestrian, bicycle, electric operated wheelchairs and scooters at a location near the downtown core. An Ideal location would be at the foot of Kalum Street near the George Little House. This would also have been a great location for a vehicle crossing however the width of the rail yard is too extensive. Even the pedestrian crossing will present difficulties however if the desire is there this can be resolved.
The second vehicle crossing, in my opinion, should be constructed at the Nisga'a highway intersection. There is enough land to construct this along with a cloverleaf. The difficulties are complicated. Legal documents are in place on the titles of some of the land at this location that impose significant hurdles to overcome. These discussions would all be "In Camera" as developers and real estate speculators take advantage of advanced knowledge of government plans.
CN does not pay taxes on the rail line thoroughfare in Terrace. This is an issue of historical significance. It was a factor 100 years ago this year when the construction of the original Grand Trunk railway took place. Story Here.
CN does pay taxes on the land and buildings east of the Sande Overpass. According to the City Finance Officer Ron Bowles, this amounted to just under $200,000 in 2011.
The CN President and CEO Claude Mongeau attended the investment announcement in Prince Rupert to confirm CN's $30 million dollar investment and their commitment to the expansion but did not have anything to add about the required infrastructure east of Ridley Terminal.
In a conversation with CN spokesperson Warren Chandler today, he stated CN does not build overpasses. It is the local governments that decide where and when to build an overpass. Chandler couldn't talk about any negotiations that may or may not be happening or to any financial commitments. He simply and clearly stated this is not their issue. The discussions start with the local governments.
Generally these projects require the City to pay a third along with the higher levels of governments and posssibly CN. I personally disagree with any amount being contributed by the City. The City receives no economic benefit.
We have deaths of pedestrians crossing the tracks and interruptions to traffic and the free flow of economic activity completely unrelated to the rail system. The Federal and Provincial governments and CN all receive significant financial benefit. It is their responsibility and duty to pay to protect the City from potential deaths and the negative economic impacts.Tractor (Backhoe) hit by train at Frank Street crossing.Man and Train encounter
The devil is in the details.