Excerpt from the Official Report of
DEBATES OF THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY

(Hansard)


March 5, 2007

Compensation for CN Rail derailment in Cheakamus Canyon

S. Simpson: Last week CN put their offer on the table for restoration and compensation concerning the caustic soda spill that devastated the Cheakamus River fishery, killing nearly half a million steelhead. The offer is $2 million over five years for restoration and no money for compensation.

By comparison, at the CN derailment at Lake Wabamun in Alberta, the provincial government stood up for their citizens, and the result was $28 million for restoration and $7 million for compensation. The contrast is clear. One government stands up for her citizens, and one government does not - $35 million for Albertans, $2 million for British Columbians.

My question is to the Minister of Transportation. Is he satisfied that CN's $2 million offer is adequate to deal with the Cheakamus River situation?

S. Simpson: Well, the CN offer is a pittance - $400,000 a year for five years. Not only that, but they want to control how the money is spent. CN is responsible for this accident. Now they want to manage the restoration project and decide who gets restoration dollars and who doesn't.

The Cheakamus is a public asset, and it should be managed in the public interest, not in the interest of the company responsible for the polluting. Mr. Speaker, $2 million - that's less than $1 a year for five years for each of those half a million fish that were killed. It's a sad offer.

The Cheakamus stakeholders have called for a trust fund to be established of $1.5 million a year for 25 years to deal with these issues. What action is the minister going to take now to ensure that the concerns of the community are met and that CN is obliged to pay sufficient funds to meet the restoration costs and legitimate compensation demands of both the first nations and the local communities?

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