What’s steady, at times noisy and runs right through the heart of Lacombe? The train of course.
A constant feature in the City is bringing one long-time resident much concern.
Blake Enns presented his petition requesting that train horns not be sounded in the City limits to councillors on May 11th.
Known as whistle cessation, municipalities can go through a lengthy process that would legally stop railway operators, like CP or CN Rail from sounding their whistles while approaching public crossings and moving through the municipal area. With the cessation, alternate measures would be set into place as necessary safeguards to provide adequate protection at crossings for vehicles and residents living nearby.
Through the Railway Safety Act, municipalities can implement whistling cessation as long as all safety requirements are met.
“The volume of trains is accelerating,” said Enns to council. “We are witnessing the increasing impact of longer and heavier train traffic passing through our City. The sounding of the horn is frequent enough to interfere with sleep patterns and is creating sleep deprivation.”
Enns, as a resident who lives very close to the tracks, said that he is requesting that the trains do not sound their whistle while passing through Lacombe during the resting hours along with slowing their speed down.
“The speed of the trains has made the problem worse,” he said. “My whole house shakes. It will get worse. It will not get better. It’s unbearable now.”
Enns wanted council to consider making steps towards stopping the whistles.
Mayor Steve Christie stated that other neighbouring municipalities have been working on similar issues, like Ponoka, and Lacombe City council has also been in discussions about it as recently as last fall.
“If we have the support of the citizens, it’s something that can move forward,” he said. “Rail safety is a forefront.”
Councillor Wayne Rempel agreed with Christie and said, “If this is something we want to look at we need to definitely consult with the citizens of Lacombe.”
Councillor Peter Bouwsema said the task to achieve whistle cessation in a community is onerous.
“There are many hurdles we have to go through,” he said. “We are hearing from both sides of the story. It does make it a little more complicated.”
CAO Norma MacQuarrie said after the upgrades were completed on Hwy. 2A, along with the railway crossings, CP Rail stated it would be increasing its speeds through the City up to 55 mph.
After a lengthy discussion, council moved to look at the costs of whistle cessation and see what the process entails to see if it is viable for the municipality. Council also noted input from citizens would be gathered before any decisions would be made.
For a formal petition to be considered and reviewed by City council, 10% of the population must sign it.