July 1, 2013
A Railroad Full of Reasons
look at how rail fits in the Fraser Valley transportation model
Submitted by Myrtle Macdonald, Chilliwack/Voice
"Hi Myrtle, what do you think of these floods in Germany, Austria,
etc.? We thought that Calgary was terrible, but all these floods
have never been as bad as they are now."
Here was my
simple, but not simplistic reply:
Dear cousin and CCs to grandsons:
Thanks for asking.
Because of global warming the glaciers in the Rockies and in the
Alps are melting fast. The Danube rises in the Alps, the Bow rises
in the Rockies. So do the South and North Saskatchewan and they are
rising fast. Beware Saskatoon. Get lots of sandbags and evacuation
With global warming why are we having a cool spring? Mostly from
pollution in the air from much too much automobile and truck
traffic. Fine particulates are as bad, or worse that browner smog.
My eyes are burning and nose running and I often cough. The mucus
blocks my sinuses and even my ear canals.
Alternate energy instead of fossil fuels, is what is needed, and
fast. Grandsons, again I say geothermal heating and cooling are
excellent and there are government subsidies to install it. Why not
get in on the bonanza that technology is starting? You can get the
For solar heating there is no need to wait for hugely funded
installations. Small ones make a big difference. Back in 1991 I was
a consultant in Lesotho, southern Africa. I saw in the capital city
Maseru that most houses had solar panels on their roofs. Even the
health nurse up in a remote mountains district had her bath water
and some light bulbs through her solar panel, her sole source of
In 1979 in the mountains of Nepal I saw that the mission hospital
operating room light was run by electricity from their solar panel.
The surgeon was a lady doctor from Alberta. Yeah Canada!
God is good. He sends clouds to cool the weather and slow down the
melting. He is sovereign. And he provides wisdom, pioneering drive,
and risk-taking character-building. For three years farmers in
Saskatchewan because of floods couldn't seed their fields. They need
skills my maternal great grandfather and his sons learned from him,
to drain their fields. It was labour intensive work requiring the
help of brothers, cousins and neighbors. Now with families smaller,
and living far away, expensive machinery is used.
The politicians are focusing on enlarging marine ports, to increase
the amount of exports and imports with China. Export I can see, but
do we want to cause closure of Canadian factories and poverty to our
own factory workers, by importing cheap Chinese goods? Their skies
are densely polluted, and that drifts over to us. Yes it does. The
network of cause and effect is complex.
I saw many of the very RR cars that come through Chilliwack, between
Saskatoon and Regina, ready to be filled, some with potash and
others with wheat. I knew they were the same cars when I saw the
Trains are polluting, but less than trucks and cars. The urgent need
is to cut down on using fossil fuels on highways.
Students and commuters need alternate ways to travel. The six
university campuses south of the Fraser River are near the
interurban railway line, used by the Southern Railway for freight.
We have right of way and with scheduling, could use it often daily,
as is done in Europe. Trams (light Rail) run on standard width rail
tracks in Europe.
When widening highways and bridges politicians think only of capital
costs, for which they get money somehow, and they forget and ignore
the maintenance costs and air pollution, being multiplied many
times. Since being widened last year, Highway # 1 is again full of
traffic day and night. Much of it is an increasing number of massive
long distance trucks. It is not commuters from Chilliwack and
Abbotsford. Most people who commute west to work have jobs south of
the Fraser River, not north of the river in Vancouver.
The West Coast Express serves commuters from north of the Fraser
River. Even though high rent is paid to CNCP, the service is
sustained by passenger revenue. On the old interurban line we will
have no rent to pay.
The Fraser Valley Heritage Railway started running June 23 on the
hour, 10 to 4 every Sunday and stat holiday until after
Thanksgiving. I went to Cloverdale for the one hour ride to
Sutherland and back, with delight. Two of the original cars, two of
the original stations and a car barn have been built. They are so
like those that I frequented as a child, that I felt nostalgic.
Passenger service is open to the public. The Cloverdale Station is
on Hwy #10 and 176A street, one block east of 176 St. Look for it on
the south side of the street, that runs through Cloverdale. There
are interesting things to do in that city too.
The historic Chilliwack rail car is being renovated now. It was
originally inaugurated by Governor General Duke of Connaught.
Hopefully next year it will come to Chilliwack. The Mayor of Surrey
provided $2 million plus last year. She cut the ribbon on Saturday
(Psst: We only need ground level shelters at other stops along the
route.) We can afford modern rail cars, as in Europe.
The trouble is that the politicians prefer to spend money on sky
trains and subways. Three lines of tram tracks on the surface is
what Mayor Watts has said are appropriate for Surrey.
The BC municipal, metro, provincial and federal politicians ought to
realize that 99 km of light rail will cost less the 4 km of sky
train (Chilliwack to Scott Road sky station at the Patullo Bridge),
according to the Leewood proposal.
Politicians overemphasize the importance of Vancouver. They are
deceived by a philosophy of waiting for population density in the
rest of the province. South of the Fraser River it is already one
Why can't the gas tax paid by people living south of the Fraser all
go toward providing light rail, especially since it is not
Is it fair or just to continue to plan for the following?:
1. build expensive transit north of the river, or
2. enlarge marine ports, or
3. widen highways and bridges.
I actually agree with the new Chilliwack plans for city bus service.
If buses can be counted on to run every 15 or 20 minutes 7 days a
week, they will be used by more people, and begin to pay for
themselves. I am not in favor of fast bus service Chilliwack to
Abbotsford. The Interurban train would serve more people just as
fast, and cost less.
Myrtle Macdonald, M.Sc.Applied (in Nursing Research and Education),
McGill University and works with the Chilliwack chapter of the BC
Schizophrenic Association. She spent many years working around the
worldas a street nurse in places like India and Montreal. She's a
proud grandmother and Chilliwack loves her!
Copyright (c) 2013 The Valley Voice