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Hundreds protest proposed CN rail yard in Milton

Last Updated Apr 25, 2015 at 10:19 pm EDT

Hundreds turned out in Milton on Saturday to protest a 160-hectare rail yard CN wants to build in their community.

If approved, the $250-million intermodal and logistics hub would be built on CN land near Britannia and Tremaine roads and allow the transfer of shipping containers between trains and trucks.

Those opposed to the project say CN is bypassing provincial and municipal environmental assessments as Canada’s Railway Act mandates only federal consent. And, they add, the project would jam the area with as many as 1,500 container trucks and big rigs.

“Residents are worried about their property value. They’re worried about pollution. They’re worried about truck traffic,” said Coun. Zeeshan Hamid.

“Residents are actually very reasonable. What they’re asking CN to do is to go through the process like everyone else, and find a suitable location. We’re willing to work with them.”

CN argues it’s going through a rigorous process to get the project approved.

“CN is a federal enterprise. It’s subject to a whole array of federal requirements,” spokesman Mark Hallman told CityNews.

“The fact of the matter is just because CN is not bound by provincial or municipal planning regulations doesn’t mean the company is not going to be held accountable through the regulatory process of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA).”

Residents have criticized Transportation Minister Lisa Raitt for her seeming lack of involvement. The disputed area falls in her riding of Halton.

“Clearly there are some legitimate concerns, and CN has a legal obligation to respond to these in a satisfactory manner,” Raitt said in a statement.

“The federal government also has a responsibility to ensure that the (CEAA) conducts a full and detailed assessment.”

Milton residents have until Monday to log their concerns with the agency.