Last week a City of Lacombe citizen entered Council Chambers and presented a petition to request the City look into the steps towards achieving train whistle cessation within the City limits.
The resident stated not only is the amount of train traffic increasing through the City, so is the impact of the train whistle. He stated the sound of the whistle as the train passes through the City occurs often enough that it often interferes with sleep patterns.
The sounding of train whistles is a federally mandated practice through Transport Canada. Municipalities have the ability to seek whistle cessation, which generally takes from three to five years to achieve.
Once all the permissions are received through Transport Canada and the railway line, like CP Rail, the project can finally move forward, with the municipality starting detailed safety assessments of each rail crossing, to determine what safety improvements will be necessary at each location. The City would also be required to carry liability insurance for the railway crossings.
After much debate, council determined they would look at the costs of whistle cessation and see exactly what the process entails. They also noted that input from citizens would have to be collected before they would make any decision, either to begin the process or leave things as they are.
After hearing about the petition to cease train whistles, another local citizen has created a petition to keep the train whistles sounding throughout the City. This citizen, like many who want the whistle to stay, stated the whistle is a needed safety measure and it keeps those in the community safe.
Others have also commented they live quite close to the tracks and the sound of the train, along with the whistle, does not bother them in the slightest. Perhaps it has become an accustomed sound to some that eases many to sleep at night.
While both of these opinions are valid, most of the citizens aware of the issue sit rather divided.
Others may sit on the middle of the tracks so to speak — agreeing that yes, the train whistles are bothersome at night, especially when you are trying to sleep, but safety should always be and remain paramount.
Many may remember this is not the first time City council has debated train whistle cessation and this will probably not be the last. Many communities along the rail line, like Blackfalds and Ponoka, also deal with the same issue.
Since whistle cessation is a legal process, which is thought to be quite onerous, could take many years, cost the municipality an unknown amount of dollars and man power, it’s left to question – is it really worth it?