Better safety measures demanded
Two Squamish residents set up picket signs beside train tracks on Cleveland Ave. Saturday (Sept. 3) to protest CN Rail. Rick Smith and Randy Marchant said they want more patrolling of the tracks and fewer cars per train.
"We're sitting here instead of going fishing," said Marchant. "They changed the way I live my life. I should be able to change the way they do their business."
The men say CN should offer better compensation for the July derailment that dumped thousands of litres of caustic soda into the Cheakamus River, killing almost all the stream's fish and resulting in a fishing ban.
"They offered us $250,000, that's a joke," said Smith. "Every person here lost the pleasure of angling. They should compensate real money into the fisheries."
Smith and Marchant are also disgusted by the delays caused by trains blocking roadways in the municipality. Drivers honked in support of the protest signs that the men placed on municipal land between the busy main street and the tracks. Summer derailments have plagued CN, including the highly publicized Wabamun, Alberta incident that resulted in 750,000 litres of carcinogenic material being dumped into a lake.
Rios Sdrakas, owner of River's Edge Fishing, visited the protesters to voice his support. Sdrakas has been dropping off petitions to local businesses demanding a public inquiry into CN derailments in BC and Alberta. He said he has 500 signatures so far, and businesses are requesting more petitions.
"We don't want this story to die," said Smith.
The protesters vow to step up their action if more derailments occur.
"If this every happens again," said Smith," that's it, we're shutting it down."
Messages left by The Chief left with CN media representatives still have not been returned. The company has not indicated what caused a lengthy blocking of Cleveland Avenue between 9 and 9:30 a.m. on Aug. 31.
-with files from John French.