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Health risk concerns confirmed over proposed CN truck-rail hub in Milton

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Health risk concerns confirmed over proposed CN truck-rail hub in Milton

For some time, Halton municipalities have banded together in an attempt to urge the Federal Government to refuse the approval of the proposed CN truck-rail hub in Milton.

While the Federal Cabinet continues to assess whether or not to approve the proposed CN truck-rail hub, Halton Municipalities are urging them to take into account a recent ruling in the United Kingdom.

The ruling concluded a nine-year-old girl’s death was due to air pollution, with the primary source of exposure due to traffic emissions.

Recently, a letter was sent to the Honourable Johnathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Halton Regional Chair Gary Carr and Halton’s Mayors that provided evidence on the dangers of air pollution and emphasized the importance of the Federal Government’s statutory mandate to protect human health.

“The case in the UK demonstrates that air pollution can indeed be fatal,” said Halton Regional Chair, Gary Carr.

“It is imperative that the Federal Government consider this ruling in their assessment. The Federal Review Panel has already determined that this project is likely to have significant adverse effects on human health because of the pollutants involved. There is no justification for failing to protect the health of tens of thousands of residents—the answer is clear that CN’s proposal for this location must not be approved.”

On Dec. 16, 2020, for the first time ever, the London Coroner ruled that a death was caused by air pollution.

The Coroner also found that air pollution had helped induce asthma and attributed to exposure to traffic emissions; a landmark finding that officially recognizes excessive air pollution as a cause of death.

This will serve as an important case study that can be applied in other jurisdictions, including Canada.

Additionally, the Federal Review Panel found that the project will have significant effects on human health. This is the first panel in the history of Canadian environmental assessments to have made this conclusion.

The panel also found that the project will increase the air concentration of three “no threshold” unsafe pollutants including nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter.

In total, the CN Milton project will add over 1,600 truck trips daily within close proximity to 34,000 current and future residents, one hospital, twelve schools and two long-term care homes.

The panel concluded that these project emissions will have direct health effects on Halton residents and that significant effects on human health caused by air pollution are unavoidable and cannot be mitigated.

Currently, there are still concerns regarding the federal enforceability of mitigation conditions proposed by the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (IAAC).

The majority of mitigation measures proposed by the agency are not enforceable by the Federal Government.

On Dec. 21, 2020, the notice was issued by the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (IAAC) that indicated that the Governor in Council had extended the time limit by 30 days for a decision on CN’s proposal for a truck-rail hub in Milton.

The first delay on the decision was announced on Sept. 21, 2020, and the second delay has caused extreme disappointment among Halton Municipalities.

An announcement is expected in the coming weeks.

For more information about the proposal, click here.

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