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Update rail rules, Vandal tells feds

Ottawa should modernize rail-safety rules to compel railway companies to divulge more information about hazardous cargo such as crude oil, says the outgoing city councillor for St. Boniface.

Coun. Dan Vandal has authored a motion calling on Ottawa to update rail-safety rules to ensure municipalities know the nature and volume of dangerous materials passing through them.

The motion heading before council also calls on crude oil and other flammable liquids be added to a list of substances deemed to be high-risk for transportation.

"There's heightened awareness and public concern with what's being transported on our railways, which started with the accident in Quebec," said Vandal, referring to the 2013 tragedy in Lac-Mégantic.

Vandal's motion, as well as a similar call by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, is purely symbolic in the sense neither the City of Winnipeg nor any municipality can compel Ottawa or railway companies to change regulations.

Nonetheless, the councillor would like to see Winnipeg place its concerns about rail safety on the record, especially given the presence of several large rail yards in the city.

Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry Coun. Jenny Gerbasi plans to second Vandal's motion, which will be debated in February unless council votes to suspend its rules and hear the motion today.

Vandal, who was first elected in 1995, is serving out his final year on council and will not seek re-election in October.

He intends to seek the federal Liberal nomination in Saint Boniface and hopes to challenge Conservative MP Shelly Glover in 2015.


-- Bartley Kives

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