The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson
Minister of Environment and Climate Change
Environment and Climate Change Canada
Dear Hon. Minister Wilkinson,
I am writing to you today to ask for your support in protecting the health of Canadians as it relates to the proposed CN intermodal project in Milton, Ontario.
As part of Halton Region along with Milton, Oakville and Halton Hills, Burlington stands in solidarity against this proposal due to the significant adverse health impact it will have on our communities, our infrastructure and our finances.
The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) panel found that this project will expose our communities’ residents to harmful toxic substances that are unsafe at any level. The impacts to air quality and human health as a result of CN’s project are unprecedented and put Halton citizens at serious risk. In the more than 100 Panel reviews since 1973, no Panel has made a finding of significant adverse effects on human health – nor has any federal decision maker concluded that significant adverse effects on human health are justified.
If this project were to advance, there are serious risks to the health and safety of some of our most vulnerable residents, given the proximity to 34,000 current and future residents, 12 schools, 2 long-term care homes, and 1 hospital to the proposed CN Milton site.
The mitigation measures recommended by the CEAA panel cannot presently be enforced by federal enforcement officers as most of the measures fall outside of federal jurisdiction. Placing conditions in to mitigate the negative environmental impact is insufficient when there is no clarity around who will be able to enforce those conditions.
Further to our environmental concerns are those related to infrastructure and safety. The surrounding rural roads, including those in Burlington, are not designed for the level of truck traffic that would result if the project moves ahead. A significant increase in truck traffic on our rural roads will also negatively impact farm operations as their vehicles are large and move at slow speeds on already busy roads. More traffic means less viability for our farming operations.
These roads have no shoulders and are rural farming roads, creating a significant safety hazard for the many motorists and avid cyclists who use them. If we are required to enhance the roads, there will be a substantial cost. Such projects are not built into our current infrastructure planning and therefore municipal funding is not earmarked for such an initiative, leaving the alternative of raising taxes – something we are not willing to do especially given the current COVID-19 situation where many people have already lost their jobs and are struggling to make ends meet.
Compounding that financial burden would be the loss in property tax revenue from the residential population growth and jobs that were expected to be placed in the same area. That growth was counted into our long-term financial projections.
As our colleagues at Halton Region have requested, we urge you to prioritize human and environmental health as you complete your review of the CEAA panel’s findings and ensure you uphold the important values and vision for protecting the health of all Canadians and working towards a green recovery as expressed in the Speech from the Throne.
The demonstrated negative health impacts on our community as detailed by the CEAA report should be sufficient reason to reject this project. The additional negative impacts on our rural community, road safety, infrastructure and financial well-being are even more reason for this expansion to be denied.
Mayor Marianne Meed Ward
City of Burlington
Cc: The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada
The Honourable Karina Gould, MP Burlington
Adam van Koeverden, MP, Milton
Pam Damoff, MP, Oakville North-Burlington
The Honourable Michael Chong, MP Wellington-Halton Hills
Parm Gill, MPP, Milton
The Honourable Ted Arnott, MPP, Wellington-Halton Hills
Jane McKenna, MPP, Burlington
Stephen Crawford, MPP, Oakville
Effie Triantafilopoulos, MPP, Oakville North-Burlington
Halton Regional Council
Burlington City Council
Tim Commisso, City Manager, City of Burlington
- Halton Mayors in Ottawa to Voice Concerns and Request the Federal Government Refuse Approval of CN’s Proposed Truck-Rail Hub in Milton
- Halton Municipalities Present Key Concerns on CN Truck-Rail Hub at Public Hearing
*Posted by John Bkila, Mayor’s Media and Digital Communications Specialist.