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'We will not be railroaded by the railroad,' MP vows
Published: October 31, 2007
Source: The Record
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CAMBRIDGE - Public concerns about CP Rail's plans for a "bargain basement rail yard" near Ayr were raised last week by Cambridge MP Gary Goodyear in the House of Commons.

He presented a 1,159-name petition calling on federal government departments and ministers to convince the railroad "to appropriately protect the environment, show some respect for Canadians and start acting like good neighbours should" as it gets ready to serve the new Toyota car factory at Woodstock.

"CP is flaunting the fact that federal laws have little jurisdiction over them. We will not be railroaded by the railroad," he said.

The railway's plans fall under an exemption to an environmental assessment requirement in federal railway laws, because the new tracks are within 100 metres of an existing rail line and shorter than three kilometres. The new rail yard is proposed between Blenheim and Trussler Roads, in Blanford-Blenheim Township, near to the Nith River.

The proposed rail yard is just across the Oxford County line from the village of Ayr, which is bisected by the already busy east-west rail line. Residents there fear more trains will block fire trucks from reaching crashes on the 401, or that the rail yard will be used to store trains carrying hazardous materials along with new cars.

Goodyear doesn't oppose building a rail yard, just that it be built in a way that's palatable for neighbours.

CP Rail spokesperson Michel Spenard refused to immediately comment on Goodyear's petition or comments made in the house. He wants to see a copy of the exact wording of the petition after contacting Goodyear's office. "Maybe I will have something I can say next week," he said.

The railway continues to work through public comments and concerns about the project, he said. It intends to have a response completed and to mailed to Blanford-Blenheim township council next week.

"The township is protecting the concerns of the citizens and we're hoping to contact the township with a response to the concerns of the public," he said.

No decision has been made about holding another public information meeting, like CP hosted in August in Ayr, he said.

Margaret Hicks lives in Blanford-Blenheim near the proposed rail yard and was happy Goodyear was taking up the fight for her and her neighbours. She's co-founder of the anti-rail yard Wolverton Siding Association.

"The laws need to be changed, that's all there is to it," she said. "I'm glad someone is paying attention at the federal level . . . (railroads) have too much power."

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