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Quinte West residents seeking ban on train whistles

By Matthew Murray [1]

TRENTON – Quinte West residents who want a stop to train whistles in their neighbourhood are going to have to wait for support from their elected officials.

A petition signed by over 75 people who say they are being disturbed by train whistles at a rail crossing on 2nd Dug Hill Road in Murray Ward was presented to Quinte West council Monday night.

The residents want council to pass a bylaw prohibiting train whistles in their area.

Mark Ruckstuhl, the spokesperson for the group, presented the petition. He told councillors that Transport Canada has approved municipal bylaws prohibiting train whistles in places such as Bowmanville [2], Brighton and Shannonville.

The engineer driving the train always has the authority to blow the whistle if necessary, Ruckstuhl said: “If (the engineer) sees a kid on the tracks, or a cow, or a car, he’s going to blow his whistle.”

According to a 2012 Transport Canada report [3], crossings must have proper documentation, barriers and fencing, signage and signalling in order to receive approval for a bylaw against train whistles. There also must be no evidence of people disobeying the warning signals, and no unauthorized access to the rail line.

But even if such a bylaw is in place, it is possible that communities could face legal liability if accidents can be attributed to a lack of train whistles, the report says.

Extra legal risk for the city was a concern for council members Monday night. Coun. Allan DeWitt said he wanted a staff report on the issue before making a decision.

“We’ve been asked lots of times about train crossings, and our standard answer is that we don’t assume the liability if the whistle stops,” DeWitt said.

Chief administrative officer Charlie Murphy said previous reports had noted that council would take on more liability if there were an accident at a crossing covered by a no-whistle bylaw.

Council passed a motion to have its public works and finance committees look again at the impact of a bylaw prohibiting train whistles at crossings in Quinte West. No decision will be made on the petitioners’ request until those reviews take place, council said.

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