RE: CN Rail Issues in Squamish Nation Community
Dear Squamish Nation Members:
On October 3, 2020 we had an opportunity to meet virtually with senior executives from CN. We are pleased that CN has agreed to talk with the Squamish Nation about rail operations and the short- and long-term solutions to the impacts of rail operations around our Squamish Nation communities.
Since that meeting, the Squamish Nation has collected community feedback via survey. This survey gave us information needed to understand the impact of CN Rail-related disturbances on residents. This community feedback has been invaluable for identifying specific details related to how our Members have been negatively impacted by CN Rail’s activities. Squamish Nation will inform CN of the community feedback in early March 2021.
From Eslhá7an to Yekwaupsum, we heard your concerns and learned of how CN’s activities have negatively impacted your lives and the lives of your loved ones. We have heard from you of how these noises have compromised the sleep of little ones; how these activities increased anxieties and stress of families; and how the constant shaking resulting from the stopping and compacting of cars disrupts our late families resting in peace.
Although there have been some noted improvements in the past few years brought on by political pressure and cooperation with other governments, we know that there is still much more to do. We thank you for taking part in our survey, and for continuing to shine light on changes that need to be made.
We acknowledge the importance of goods movement by rail for the regional economy. At the same time, there is a clear need for CN to review their disruptive activities. They must review their conduct such as shunting and idling for hours immediately adjacent to homes. They must ensure the rail and the residents of our Squamish Communities can co-exist successfully. On several occasions over past two winters, locomotives were left idling continuously for more than 24 hours directly adjacent to homes in Eslhá7an, a community that predates the rail by centuries. This is unacceptable.
Over the past several years, CN has progressed on various initiatives to reduce noise, such as train whistling cessation and rail lubrication to reduce trail wheel noise. While these efforts have created some improvements, more change is needed to respond to the concerns of our Squamish People. Further, we want to see better communications from CN Rail. So far, we have experienced a lack of acknowledgement or follow-up when submitting messages to the CN Community Complaints Phone line.
We believe that through effective communications, a desire to understand the issues experienced both by CN and the adjacent communities, and a deep commitment to explore and act on operational alternatives, we can reduce the negative impacts of the rail on adjacent communities.
Our next steps are to:
- Send a co-authored letter with the City of North Vancouver to the Vice President of CN’s Western Operations asking for a second meeting with CN staff to share our community survey results.
- Appoint a senior staff member with our Planning & Capital Projects Department to be our new representative for the North Shore Waterfront Liaison Committee, which addresses community concerns related to industrial activity in our respective neighbourhoods.
- Co-develop an advocacy strategy with the City of North Vancouver to call for Provincial and Federal support for our community concerns regarding these issues
Further, we are demanding the following from CN:
- Immediate change in operational procedures to ensure no locomotive idling occurs adjacent to residential properties and do not occur within the Squamish Nation lands of Eslhá7an.
- Active participation in talks with the Squamish Nation and the City of North Vancouver. These talks are to explore areas for improved understanding and issue management.
Thank you for your commitment to working collaboratively with our Squamish Nation staff to resolve these concerns. We will continue to keep you informed of our progress and results as we move forward in this process.
Huy chexw a,
Director, Rights & Title Department
Director, Planning & Capital Project Department