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Abbotsford and Mission to review railroad safety

Abbotsford and Mission will work together to review the issue of railroad safety and the transport of dangerous goods through the communities.

Coun. Jeff Jewell of Mission and Coun. Henry Braun of Abbotsford submitted a report to their respective councils Feb. 17, suggesting the cities undertake a study to identify the exposures, estimate risk levels, and recommend any risk mitigation options of rail transport.

Though the responsibility for rail safety and regulation falls on the federal and provincial governments, the report states that municipalities have a responsibility to ensure the health and safety of their residents and to keep first responders up to date on the necessary safety protocols.

The report calls for the process to include meetings and correspondence with the operating companies involved, as well as appropriate federal and provincial regulatory bodies.

Jewell told Mission council, “I don’t know if we can do a whole lot. At the very least we need to learn a lot more about what the risks are and try to get the attention of authorities and maximize safety in our community.”

Braun said that he is not opposed to transporting dangerous goods, but there are increased concerns in light of recent rail accidents in North America that should be addressed.

A report from Abbotsford city manager George Murray suggested that as the issue affects a number of Fraser Valley municipalities, council may wish to contact other cities to work together, allowing them to share any potential legal fees associated with a study.

Both councils supported the plan.

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