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Central Avenue residents hoping for the best from CN meeting


The meeting CN originally had scheduled for this week was postponed until next Wednesday but Central Avenue residents remain optimistic.

“To my knowledge, the group here on the block had no problems with [the postponement],” said George Drazenovich, who lives at 809 Central Ave.

“Everybody is waiting to see what [CN] will present to us. We’re hoping for the best,” he added.

“We’ve decided not to draw any assumptions.”

The meeting was postponed to give CN a chance to put its highly-technical report, regarding the diesel fuel contamination levels on residential and town property along Central Avenue, into layman’s terms.

The original meeting was convened by CN, with the Ministry of the Environment, the Northwestern Health Unit, and town reps also invited.

The meeting will give CN a chance to explain its proposal for cleaning up the area, satisfy government agencies, and assuage residents’ concerns.

Ian Thomson, director of public affairs relations and community relations, will be on hand for the meeting. He said CN has nothing to hide.

“I understand someone will be there from our claims people to walk people through the processes that are available,” he noted. “We are [also] expecting to get the green light to go ahead with the clean-up project.”

CN made a proposal to the MoE and the town to extract “free product” (fuel sitting directly on the water table) from the site by a method known as “slurping.”

The project would involve digging a ditch and pumping the fuel uphill against the grade of the land. Once the fuel was pumped into the ditch, it would be collected.

This solution would take two-five years to complete.

Meanwhile, the town will have representatives on hand to protect the voting public. Mayor Glenn Witherspoon, for one, hoped to be there.

“If I’m in town I’ll probably be there,” he said. “The main thing we want is a directive from CN that they are going to take care of the interests of our citizens in regards to devaluation of their property.”

“Our citizens are our number-one priority and the liability totally lies with CN,” he stressed.

Even though the fuel contamination also is on town property, the town said it will not seek financial compensation.

“I don’t see that as being an option for us. We need a road there is no other alternative. Compensation will not remove the need for a road,” said CAO Bill Naturkach, adding the town will not send lawyers.

The health unit said it would have a health inspector in attendance, and it is still awaiting a provincial toxicology report on the matter.

Drazenovich simply hoped for fairness.

“I, as one individual, am not looking to stick it to CN. In no way whatsoever. All I want is fair and just compensation,” he said.

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