Link to story: Toronto Star Friday September 26, 2014 Jessica McDiarmid
The transport by rail of dangerous goods is a concern not only for those living near rail lines, but also for those who commute alongside rail lines.
Many of these dangerous goods are part of the economic reality we live in, and while reducing our carbon footprint is a noble goal, it is not one likely to be achieved quickly.
So what can we do to protect our families and communities?
The first step is gathering knowledge. There is a lot of information on this topic, and while it can be challenging to sift through, knowing that the aim is to prevent another Lac-Mégantic is a huge motivator. Follow Safe Rail Communities on FB for current events on this matter.
Step two is to raise awareness. Share what you learn with your family, friends, and neighbours. Connect with your MP, and ask them for information and support. The oversight of railway regulations is a federal matter.
Step three is to take action. Use every possible avenue to make this an issue for the federal government. Draft a petition on this matter, and collect 25 signatures with addresses and postal codes. Ask your MP to submit it to the House of Commons. The Minister of Transport must officially respond. Seek out other groups like Safe Rail Communities, and unite to form a larger voice.
SRC is asking for more transparency and safeguards with respect to the transport by rail of dangerous goods, most especially Bakken crude, which is still a largely unpredictable entity. Despite recent changes to railway safety, the Minister of Transport has refused to allow any Transport officials to attend community meetings since the last one on April 24th in the riding of York-South Weston. None attended our community meeting on September 4th despite multiple invitations from our MP, Peggy Nash (NDP). SRC also sent an official invitation to the Minister herself, but received no response.
With this summer’s passing of Bill C31 Budget Implementation Act, Canadians were again delivered a suspect omnibus bill. This one included the repeal of sections of the both the Railway Safety Act and the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act, 1992. These sections relate specifically to opportunities for Canadians and other interested groups to review and comment on a proposed regulation at the last stages of the regulation process, before it is enacted and published in Part II of the Canada Gazette. SRC wrote to the Senate Committee on National Finance before its review of the bill. While we received an official response, the bill still passed.
SRC is committed to our goal, and we will continue to seek out ways to hold our government accountable for the risk these oil tanks present to rail communities across the country. Please connect with us.