“Instant relief” when court ruled against CN’s logistics hub: Milton councillor


Published March 8, 2024 at 9:12 am

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“Instant relief,” was the first reaction by Milton Regional Councillor Sameera Ali following last week’s court victory over CN Rail.

“This has been an ongoing issue for Ward 4 residents in Milton for more than 10 years,” she told Inhalton.com while between meetings at the annual Federation of Canadian Municipalities meeting in Nova Scotia.

The issue is CN Rail’s ongoing attempt to construct an intermodal logistics hub within a few hundred metres of a hospital, a dozen schools, two long-term care facilities and 36,000 people.

“The community felt hopeless,” said Ali. “Especially when CN started blocking streets to build access roads. Families live here, I live around the corner myself. No one should ever put the health of children in jeopardy.”

The crux of disputes that sees local residents, the Town of Milton and Halton Region on one side and CN Rail and the federal government on the other is a conclusion by an independent panel that the project is likely to cause a significant adverse cumulative environmental effect to air quality.

The federal government chose to overlook that report and granted the necessary permits to CN. Halton Region then sued. Last Friday, a federal court ruled the government acted out of turn and needed to revisit the decision.

No one disputes that the logistics hub is needed. Truck and rail is still the most common way goods are moved across the country.

“But it doesn’t belong in an area zoned residential,” said Ali, who has grown increasingly frustrated with the years-long ordeal. “I don’t understand why CN doesn’t value the lives of Miltonians.”

Ali had a pointed message for one of her fellow Milton politicians. She specifically mentioned former Milton MPP Parm Gill, who resigned to run at the federal level, hoping he’d continue his legacy of fighting this project should he win.

CN Rail has pledged to continue to fight for this location.

In a news release, they said that, while still reviewing a federal court’s decision related to the hub, they remain committed to it.

“Consumers and Canadian businesses from coast to coast to coast rely on CN’s network to access goods at home and around the world,” said Doug MacDonald, CN’s executive vice-president and chief marketing officer.

“The Canadian government has stated its commitment to addressing supply chain issues and improving Canada’s transportation system to make life more affordable for Canadians. This project is fundamental to that effort.”

CN said the Milton logistics hub will not only benefit Ontario, but further strengthen the Canadian economy and its strategic advantages.

“Authorization to build the Project was subject to Canada’s most extensive environmental review process resulting in an approval including 325 conditions designed to protect both the community and the environment,” said the release.

“The Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) is one of Canada’s fastest growing regions and the Milton Logistics Hub is critical to handle the growing demand for household goods, consumer products, and other necessities of day-to-day life.”

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