File photo Closeness of the rail route to the Semiahmoo Peninsula’s increasing population is an urgent concern, particularly in the wake of the tragic death of a teenager last week, MP Gordie Hogg and MLA Tracy Redies say.

South Surrey rail tragedy emphasizes safety and relocation concerns

Three levels of government need to act say MP, MLA

The Semiahmoo Peninsula’s MP and MLA say the tragic death of 15 year-old Jack Stroud last week underlines the need for action from all levels of government on rail safety.

South Surrey-White Rock MP Gordie Hogg and Surrey-White Rock MLA Tracy Redies both say they were horrified and saddened by the accident in which the Elgin Park student lost his life after being struck by a northbound passenger train near Crescent Beach on July 4.

The incident – now under investigation by the coroner’s service after police confirmed Monday it did not involve foul play – occurred less than a week after they both participated in a meeting hosted by federal Ministry of Transportation officials in which local politicians advanced safety concerns regarding the BNSF’s waterfront route.

“It’s a terrible, terrible, sad irony that we were just discussing this, and then to have this tragedy occur… it’s devastating; terrible for the family and for the community,” said Hogg.

“It emphasizes the whole issue of the need for looking at safety in the short term,” he added, noting that while rail relocation remains a long-term goal, “table-top exercises” to strategize for increased safety around the line, which will involve White Rock, Surrey and Semiahmoo First Nation, are a top priority.

“We must do everything we can to make sure the route is safe,” he said, noting that an increase in train traffic – now an average of 15 to 20 trains per day – plus a growing Peninsula population, only heightens the possibility of tragic accidents.

“It’s a decidedly different environment today than it was 100 years ago,” he said. “(This incident) reinforces the need for us to do everything we can.”

“Gordon and I are joined at the hip on this one,” said Redies, who said the death of Stroud had a particular impact on her, as the mother of a son aged 21. “I was sick to my stomach (to hear about it).”

She noted that while the federal government has shown an interest in funding a study of rail relocation, and both White Rock and Surrey have committed to cost-share it, the provincial government has not provided any tangible support so far.

“I’ve been lobbying the provincial government heavily for support,” Redies said.

Negotiations between the province and Washington state over a high-speed rail corridor are still seen as a short-cut to developing an alternative route for freight traffic locally, she said.

“While (freight) would have to run on a different track, it would make sense to have it travel the same corridor,” she said.

“It’s up to all three levels of government (to look at both rail safety and ultimate relocation).

“I want us to stop thinking about jurisdictions and start thinking what is in the best interests of the community,” Redies added.

“The risks are getting higher as the trains are getting longer.”

Just Posted

Most cows saved during massive fire on Agassiz farm thanks to fast work of farmers, neighbours

Agassiz Fire Department responded to late night call Wednesday

Risk of thunderstorm this afternoon for Vancouver Island and Lower Mainland

A special weather statement calls for heavy rain and wind over the next 48 hours

Massive fire destroys Agassiz dairy barn

Reports say at least one cow died in the blaze

First court date in Chilliwack for man accused of murdering Belgian tourist

Family and friends of Sean McKenzie, 27, filled the gallery for brief court appearance Wednesday

Another successful year for Chilliwack’s ‘We Got Your Back’ backpack program

Sponsored by local businesses, program stocks backpacks with school supplies for students in need

VIDEO: Neighbours fear impact of B.C. tent city residents

Greater Victoria residents opposed to campers voice concerns at provincial campground

An unexpected sight: Bear spotted eating another bear in central B.C.

Cheslatta Carrier Nation Chief finds bear eating another bear’s carcass

Free vet clinic caters to pets of homeless, low income people

The first such clinic in Langley will take place later this month.

RCMP confirm death of missing BC teen Jessica Patrick

No details on cause were given. Case is under criminal investigation and police are asking for tips.

Extradition hearing set for Lower Mainland developer accused of fraud

Mark Chandler will go before the B.C. Court of Appeals early next year.

CUTENESS OVERLOAD: 2 sea otters hold hands at the Vancouver Aquarium

Holding hands is a common – and adorable – way for otters to stay safe in the water

B.C. teen with autism a talented guitarist

Farley Mifsud is gaining fans with every performance

Yukon man facing new attempted murder charge in B.C. exploding mail case

Leon Nepper, 73, is now facing one charge each of aggravated assault and attempted murder

B.C. man who left hospice to run in upcoming election dies

A week after leaving hospice to go to city hall to declare his candidacy, David Hesketh has died.

Most Read