By Andru McCracken
Pete Pearson couldn’t believe it when he saw campers set up near Valemount’s VIA train platform. His wife had taken a photo of the men’s tent, and when he finished his clean up at the Valemount Legion he checked in on them.
“I pulled over, and everything was good,” said Pearson. As a matter of course he checked the VIA Rail app, which said that the train was due in at 11:50 a.m.
“They were well situated. I didn’t think too much of it and carried on.”
When he passed again the campers were all packed up, ready to board the train. Another check of the app found disappointing news.
“The train would not leave Jasper until 15:30,” said Pearson.
That would leave the travellers outside all day until 5 pm. At least.
Pearson decided to intervene, and told them about the arrangement with the Valemount Hotel as a waiting area and the app that lets travellers know when the train is about to arrive.
Peason is a councillor for the Village of Valemount and has been a part of the discussions between Valemount and VIA Rail after two tourists were found waiting for the train, who were likely hypothermic.
After this latest incident, he followed up with village staff about signage at the site.
“Staff got on the phone to VIA. Apparently there will be some signage coming about the warm up shelter and VIA Rail app.”
Since the village intervened, the Valemount Hotel has become a designated waiting area for passengers with a valid train ticket. Even though the stop is about 400 metres from the waiting area, travellers have a chance to get there on time because of a new app reports on VIA passenger train’s arrival time.
Pearson said the adventuresome Irish duo invoked awe.
“Dropped off by train a week before, hitchhiking to Mount Robson… wow, that’s hardcore.”
“I love Berg Lake, but I can’t imagine hiking in on snowshoes.”
Pearson said the travellers were blown away by the community concern and support.
Bogdan Wasaznik had already brought the pair sandwiches and tea.
Last week we incorrectly reported that it was Pearson who ‘watered and fed’ the Irish visitors.
“I did a little community relations,” said Pearson. He brought out some Love Valemount branded toques and neck warmers.
“We have been dealing with VIA since last winter: the passenger almost frozen to death, trying to find options. To date this is the best we’ve been able to come up with,” said Pearson. “It’s not bad. I’m still hoping we can fight for some kind of shelter. It doesn’t need to have any amenities, just three walls.”
In the meantime he’s also hoping the train could start stopping near the crossing at Dogwood Street, closer to the Valemount Hotel waiting area.