White Rock council is expected to voice its opinion on a proposed coal transfer operation for the Surrey/North Delta border that could bring trains more than 2.3 kilometres long through the city's waterfront.
Fraser Surrey Docks wants to set up a coal transfer operation that can handle up to four million metric tonnes of coal per year to start and up to eight million tonnes in the long-term. It has applied to Port Metro Vancouver for approval, but no decision has yet been made.
According to Coun. Grant Meyer, the issue will come up before council at Monday's meeting, at which point an official position may be taken.
"It is a concern for the increased traffic through the city and the potential health hazards related to coal dust and all that, so we're going to have the opportunity as council to discuss that," said Meyer, who noted there have been talks in the community about both the effects of coal dust as well as the potential increase in train traffic.
"(Some people) are worried about the frequency of trains through the community, it's obviously gotten more frequent over the years," he said. "If they increase more and more, the concern could definitely be growing."
However, whether or not that means White Rock will be able to do anything about the proposed operation remains to be seen. According to city manager Dan Bottrill the city does not have direct control over what happens on its train tracks.
"You may not have any direct control, but you may have some indirect control, which may be the influence that a municipality has with respect to what's happening in its community," said Bottrill.
"Though, I think it's fair to say there are opportunities to participate in the public process with either Port Metro (Vancouver) or the railways."
Bottrill went on to say that council would be able to look at and get involved with the public process for such proposals and take the concerns of its citizens to the decision makers, should they choose to.
"One of the things that council can be looking at is what options are available for them," said Bottrill. "The issue of consultation, what does that look like, and how can we engage and participate in that? How are we going to ensure that concerns are adequately outlined for individuals who can make decisions with respect to that matter?"
Council will discuss the proposal at Monday night's regular council meeting.
A free community forum on coal exports is also set to be held on Monday, March 11 at the Surrey City Centre Library in room 418 from 7 to 8: 30 p.m.