Terminal not without blemishes

A writer wonders how close is too close for safety, if the Terminal is storing hazardous materials.

Dear Editor,

It’s always good to read about projects that may have a positive effect on our community. According to last week’s article (“Ashcroft Terminal gearing up for new businesses and services”, April 7), though, the blessings brought to us by the Ashcroft Terminal are not without a blemish or two.

Here is something that has at least the appearance of a blemish. The Vice President of the project, we are told, acknowledges that at least some of the cars stored at the Terminal site contain hazardous material. This, to my knowledge, is the first time we have ever been told that hazardous material would be housed there. And since the nature of the material is not specified we are entitled to assume that some of this material may be not just toxic but explosive.

To put our fears at rest, though, the Vice President tells us that the Terminal is 1.6 kilometres from the nearest residence, so presumably no resident is within the danger zone. But if 1.6 kilometres is a safe distance, how much closer can one be and still be safe from potential (no matter how unlikely) toxic or explosive impacts?

My own residence, for example, is hardly half that distance to the Terminal’s entrance. A house belonging to Desert Hills is even closer, and I venture to guess that the entire residential community just north of the Bonaparte River is within one kilometre of the site. Are we far enough away so we can sleep easy at night?

Another noticeable blemish is the way we are told to keep off the slough. The slough, as even the article recognizes, has been seen and treated by Ashcroft residents as a wonderfully unique natural preserve as well as a sort of playground and place of refuge. This has been true for as long as I can remember. I doubt that I’m the only Ashcroft area resident who has never really thought of the slough as belonging to anyone in particular. It is something that has sort of been there for our enjoyment all along. Silly of me, I know, but there it is.

The article makes it very clear that the management of the Ashcroft Terminal claims the slough as its own and discourages further use of it by local residents. The last paragraph, indeed, amounts to a pretty explicit threat: cross the tracks to walk into the slough and you may be fined, as an Ontario man was recently fined.

If the Ashcroft Terminal has obtained ownership of the slough, then of course it has the legal right to keep people off its property, and nothing really justifies the vandalizing of the no-crossing signs at the slough approach. Even so, instead of using threats, wouldn’t it be better for the Terminal management to get together with CN and try to come up with a safe way to allow residents to continue enjoying the slough?

Wouldn’t that be a much better way to maintain a good relationship, especially since a good deal of public money has gone in to the making of this project?

Ermes Culos