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White Rock asking federal government to move railway

WATCH: White Rock is asking Ottawa to step in and help move its railway. Jas Johal reports.

The city of White Rock is perhaps best known for the rail line that hugs its coast. But if the city has its way, that will change.

White Rock council voted Monday to begin a process asking the federal government to move the waterfront line, which is owned by American company BNSF.

Mayor Wayne Baldwin says ten years ago, it was four trains passing through the line everyday.

Now it’s 20 – and with the approval of a coal transfer facility at Fraser Surrey Docks last month, it will grow even more.

READ MORE: Port Metro Vancouver approves coal transfer facility at Fraser Surrey Docks

“We’re seeing a big increase coming our way, through the approval of the Fraser Surrey Docks, the tripling of Roberts Banks, and even to some degree the construction of Massey Bridge,” he said.

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The line isn’t just nosier – it’s also become a safety hazard. Accidents over the last year spurred Transport Canada to order new barriers along the line, which Baldwin says is counterproductive.

“It doesn’t make it prettier, and in my mind it doesn’t make it any safer, but it makes Transport Canada feel better”

However, Baldwin cautioned that any rerouting would take significant time and coordination with the Semiahmoo First Nation and the City of Surrey. Early estimates that even if a move was eventually approved, it would cost $350 million.