Lacombe train whistles could be no more, pending grant funding

Whistle cessation has been a community want for many years

A byproduct of new Transport Canada safety regulations could mean that end of train whistles in Lacombe is nigh.

Mayor Grant Creasey said ending train whistles in Lacombe have long been talked about.

“I can remember as a small child in this community people were talking about this same thing,” he said. “It has been going on for an awful long time and all we can do is look to other communities who have had success one way or another.

“It is a balancing act trying to please the majority of the people in the public and still keeping in mind the availability of funds.”

Whistle cessation as long been a cause of angst among many of Lacombe’s populace and probable grant funding intended for increased safety could mean that the over $500,000 ($72,500 for the Leduc Line, $507,500 for the Bretcher Line) required to meet safety requirements and the whistle cessation byproduct is in sight.

Lacombe council therefore passed a motion to include safety improvements and whistle cessation in the 2020 and/or 2021 City budget, assuming grant funding is available. The project is eligible for up to 80 per cent funding from Transport Canada.

“I think it is important to keep in mind that it (whistle cessation) was not the driving force behind this, Mayor Grant Creasey said. “It is more of a community safety concern. It just so happens that those two items seem to be so intermingled that while you are pursuing the safety standards of the 2021 upgrade, you are by default meeting the standards of whistle cessation. That is an added bonus for some.”

Not knowing the exact dollar amount the project would cost can be problematic, which is why council worded the motion to be flexible based on cost.

“It is unfortunate, but that is why we worded it so we have the option to continue or cease pursuit of this should funds not be realized,” he said.

Creasey, when asked regarding the diverting the rail lines similar to what Red Deer did in the 1990s on Taylor Dive, said the cost of a large-scale project like that is prohibitive.

“I think that was a very successful move for them,” he said. “They had a lot of viable properties realized from moving the railway out of of that community. In our instance, the cost to relocate it far outweighs the overall benefit.

“In a perfect world, if we could just put it underground or something that would be wonderful but when a person examines the cost — it is just not feasible to do.”

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