By Laura Keil, Editor/Publisher

As BC’s most northern Resort Municipality, Valemount is strategically positioned to take advantage of adventure seekers who come to this region. 

But one major drawback will limit that growth: the train whistle. 

It’s one thing for people to get used to the train whistle as long-term residents inside a home with walls and windows, but I think it’s unlikely that visitors sleeping in RVs or tents will enjoy their stay with that infernal sound waking them up multiple times a night.

But it’s not just tourism that will benefit from train whistle cessation. There are a number of underdeveloped properties along Main Street and the other side of the tracks that could see development, including a huge new subdivision south of the high school that’s laid out in the recent Official Community Plan.

At least one family intends to build a home on Main Street, but is reluctant to do so until the train whistle is gone. 

In a recent article about the train whistle in New Westminster, a resident living near the train whistle described the nightly disruptions as a personal sacrifice.

“Having your sleep being, in an essence, deprived or taken away, that’s a form of torture that they use in certain areas of the worldâ€not to the same extent, and the conditions are very differentâ€but it plays upon the individual psyche.”

Even those who don’t realize it may be having lighter sleeps and disturbed REM cycles – a crucial phase of sleep important for cognition and memory.

I realize that the horn is there for safety purposes, but it’s been proven elsewhere that we can find alternative ways of keeping the railroad tracks safe without it. And of course, the horn is still available for use if the engineer needs to blast a warning. 

Now that Valemount has gates and whistles, there is a clear track for eliminating the whistle at the village crossings. I commend Council for taking this step for the health and well-being of its residents and the future residents and economy of this village.