The Suburban Newspaper
August 14th, 2013
Côte St. Luc, along with Hampstead, Montreal West and LaSalle, are expected to meet with Canadian Pacific Railway representatives in the very near future to discuss railway safety and security issues in the St. Luc yards, in light of the rail disaster in Lac Mégantic that killed 47 people in July.
But Mayor Anthony Housefather revealed at Monday night’s Côte St. Luc council meeting, in answer to a question by council regular Bernard Tonchin, that CP has already responded to one of the city’s concerns about the neighbouring yard, by telling the municipality what material is transported through the facility in that area.
“We found out by requesting it from them,” the mayor told The Suburban.
But Housefather said he could not publicly reveal what the railway told the city, as the information is subject to a confidentiality agreement.
Asked if he thinks the public should know what is transported through the yards, Housefather responded that it’s important the city has that information.
“I’m not the federal government, I didn’t determine if the railways have an obligation to provide [the information] to the municipalities or anyone else,” the mayor added. “The federal government should be doing that. I had one opportunity to get it for our city to work on our emergency measures plan and make sure that we’re prepared, and I prefer to have the information than not have it.”
Asked to react to the information he received about what is transported through the yards, Housefather said: “It’s what we expected.”
But the mayor said he could not say whether he was concerned or not, explaining that this would violate the confidentiality agreement with CP.
“All I will say is the city is better prepared today than we were a month ago, because CP has voluntarily given us this information, that by federal law, they don’t have to give to us.”
The most recent publicly revealed information about what is transported through the yards was compiled by Hampstead resident Luba Lallouz in 2007, through observation of the yards.
At Monday night’s meeting, Tonchin called for the creation of a railway committee of citizens.
“We cannot move the railway because it was here first, but we need more citizen involvement,” the resident said, adding that “we don’t know what’s in the tanker cars, one beside the other. Should there be a tragedy, God forbid, we will not know how to fight it. We, as citizens, should meet with the railway on a friendly basis.”
It was at this point that Housefather revealed to Tonchin that the city does have the information, and that CP will meet with the city once it completes its own analysis of the Lac Mégantic tragedy.
“Until such time as the federal government adopts more stringent requirements on the railways, anything we receive as information as a city comes from the sufferance of the railway, meaning we need to have a good relationship with the railway to get anything because they have no legal obligation under federal law to provide it to us,” Housefather said. “CP has been working very fairly with us. For the first time after the incident, we were able to secure the list of materials that does travel through the yards, at least the most prevelant, dangerous materials. And we will make sure to regularly update that list, to use it for our emergency measures plan and the committees associated with it.”
What’s on the train? No one knows. (Montreal Gazette)