Letter: Burnaby refinery's 'ratrunners' race through our quiet area. The city won't stop it

Editor:

Re: Burnaby Ratrunners have returned in scary numbers, NOW Opinion 

I read with obvious interest, your article (Oct. 16) regarding the “ratrunners,” particularly in North Burnaby neighbourhoods. 

I am a north Burnaby resident and I and my neighbours on North Gamma Avenue are plagued by our own set of ratrunner”. They are the Parkland refinery runners.

Back in January of 2018, a group of us were featured in the Burnaby NOW in an article about the “eyesore” clear-cut parking lot put in by Parkland refinery to accommodate the overflow parking that would be necessary for the turnaround operation that the refinery has twice a year and that lasts between six to 12 weeks.

The parking lot is located at the foot of Gamma and Penzance Drive with the exit facing Gamma. Not only is the lot an eyesore with the beautiful trees removed, but it is only used for part of the year.

Aware of our displeasure, the refinery has made efforts to work with the area neighbours, adding some landscaping. However, the traffic situation has become a real problem.

At first, the 380 extra cars per shift were trying to exit the lot and head up through the residential neighbourhood on Gamma to get to Hastings. Both speed and the number of pedestrians walking this street and dodging traffic became an issue.

Parkland then tried using flaggers to try to detour the traffic to Penzance and up Willingdon (dedicated truck route). 

Unfortunately, the flaggers had no control of what the traffic did and were both abused, as well as ignored and found their lives at risk. 

Many of these drivers are contractors (many from out of town) so had no obligation to the city. The traffic took to ripping through back lanes or pulling U-turns so that they could come back and run up Gamma. 

Even though signs were installed by the city to restrict traffic, which have since been removed by the city, the traffic ignored these signs. 

At the time of this letter, the extra traffic is not running, but it will return at the next turnaround.

On a daily basis though, the traffic that races up Penzance both from the regular employees of Parkland at the end of their shift and the downtown traffic is unbelievable for a once-quiet street.

Recently, when Willingdon and Albert were closed, all of the oil trucks were diverted down Gamma for 10 days (24/7) to get to the refinery, in addition to all the traffic. There are still oil trucks using this route to get to the refinery to this day.

It is so disappointing that after all our rallying to reduce traffic from the refinery, the city has had the audacity to remove those signs that restrict the traffic during shift change. 

Most of us residents have lived her for 40 years and are most concerned that the city is not more concerned. The engineering department is quite adamant that they are not interested in helping us solve this problem.

Carol Haar, Burnaby

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