As Prince Rupert Port Authority public affairs director Ken Veldman spoke to Port Edward council, he was momentarily drowned out by the blaring whistle of a CN train making its way through the community.
The timing of this noisy interruption brought about light laughter from those around the table who have had whistles blasting at all hours of the day and night for years. But when Veldman finished his presentation and opened the floor to questions, Mayor Dave MacDonald and fellow councillors let him know the steady interruptions were no laughing matter.
“You are going to increase the port size and we are going to have more trains going through. I know that you are willing to get involved, but we still feel that we need more help from all the industries that use this track that goes through town. All we are asking for is help to ensure that our citizens can have a good night’s sleep … the people come first and the people are upset with this. Our patience is only going to go so far,” said Mayor MacDonald, adding that controlled crossings may not be the answer.
“It was brought to my attention that the ‘ding, ding, ding’ may be just as bad as the whistle if they start ringing the bell. The whistle is bad, but if they start ringing the bell, are we going to be ahead at all?”
Coun. Dan Franzen also expressed his concern with the train noise, noting some residents have left the community because of the whistling.
“You just heard one go by and that is happening at all hours of the night. I live up top there and I don’t get it as bad as the people below,” he said.
“We definitely need to get that looked at.”
Noting that there are currently between 10 and 12 trains per day going through Port Edward, Veldman told council the port authority would be ready to help, but wanted to make sure it was done right.
“We have been more than willing to step up to the table to see what those solutions might be. Those solutions are not going to be cheap at all and the solutions themselves aren’t perfect, but Port Edward is a community that we are willing to invest in. If that is the community priority we can invest in, we will be at that table discussing how that works, without a doubt … this is not something that necessarily has to be done tomorrow because of capital investment, so let’s figure out the best way to go about it and make sure you are set in your priorities,” Veldman told council.
“It’s not like you are going to see a doubling of that [traffic] overnight, but over the next five to 10 years I don’t think there is any doubt you are going to see an increase in rail traffic.”
Skeena – Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen said he encourages those affected by the ongoing rail noise to contact his office.
“If folks in Port Edward and Prince Rupert want to reach out and engage I will certainly welcome that and we have had success with this file in other communities … [CN] has done noise mitigation on other parts of the line,” he said.