With the lengthening days, we have happily found more time to update you on our activity of the past few months.
It’s been more than two-and-half years since the explosive rail tragedy in Lac-Mégantic that took 47 lives, but sadly, meaningful change to ensure safe, transparent, and regulated rail in our country has not yet occurred. Safe Rail Communities is committed to this national issue of public safety. We invite you to find out more about our work at www.saferail.ca, and to contribute to this important cause in one of several ways, including making a donation and signing our new federal e-petition here.
We look forward to warmer weather, sharing our information with local rail communities, and seeing you at one of our upcoming events, which we will be sure to share through our website and our social media platforms.
Here is a brief summary of current efforts:
1. Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) requests
On behalf of Safe Rail Communities (SRC), our lawyer Charles Hatt (Ecojustice) submitted 5 ATIP requests in July 2015. These requests were related to transparency of risk and the public’s right to know. We are receiving responses from Transport Canada at a snail’s pace, and updating our website accordingly.
Transport Canada's culture of secrecy around rail safety is highlighted in a recent CBC investigative report. SRC co-founder Patricia Lai spoke of our frustration at not being able to get answers about the risks posed to Canadians living in rail communities across the country. We are taking on all the health and financial risks associated with unsafe and unregulated rail, yet have no information about what these risks are! Safe Rail Communities has submitted a letter of complaint to the Information Commissioner through our lawyer, Charles Hatt (Ecojustice).
2. Joint Letter to Minister Garneau
With support from a network of organizations across the country, we sent to Minister Garneau last month a letter requesting a meeting to discuss this important issue.
3. SRC’s first federal e-petition
With the federal government’s recent implementation of online e-petitions, we have created our first online rail safety e-petition, supported by our MP, Arif Virani. Many of you have already signed our paper petition, and for this we thank you. Signing our paper petition doesn’t preclude you from signing our online petition, which is a completely new petition. To be presented in the House of Commons, our e-petition must receive 500 signatories within 120 days of it being posted on the government website. We would very much appreciate your support in promoting our e-petition by sharing it with your family, friends, and any other interested contacts.
Please click here to read and/or sign our petition. Pour la version française, veuillez cliquer ici
4. Results of Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) submission for expansion of the Hardisty Oil Terminal in Alberta
Thanks to everyone who submitted comments to the CEAA on this important development. On December 23, 2015, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency decided that a federal environmental assessment is required for the Hardisty Rail Terminal Project pursuant to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 (CEAA 2012).
In making this determination, the CEAA considered the following factors as indicated in section 10 of CEAA 2012:
- the description of the project provided by the proponent (USD Terminals Canada) on October 28, 2015;
- the possibility that the carrying out of the project may cause adverse environmental effects; and,
- Aboriginal groups' comments and public comments received within the 20-day comment period.
USD Terminals Canada no longer intends to carry out the project as described in the Project description, but we will be watching closely to see if anything new develops.
5. Air quality testing in the Junction (west Toronto)
Over the next few months, Safe Rail Communities and Green 13 (www.green13toronto.org) will be working with students from the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering (University of Toronto) on an air quality monitoring project in the Junction. This study will be led by Prof. Marianne Hatzopoulou (http://uttri.utoronto.ca/people/marianne-hatzopoulou/)
Given the concern about trains idling by the Vine Ave. Parkette, we have identified the park as a priority spot for air quality monitoring. We are presently seeking residents who live within the vicinity of the park to help us with:
- recording and reporting the time periods when idling seems most prevalent
- meeting with the U of T students (likely in a community meeting format; possibly at Annette library). More details will follow.
Please let us know if you are interested in participating in this exciting project.