By Spencer Hall, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, RMG

The Village of Valemount is moving forward with a train whistle cessation assessment for rail crossings located on Dogwood Street and on 5th Avenue.

Council approved Village staff to enter into an agreement with McElhanney to conduct a whistle cessation assessment at its November 28th council meeting, which will cost the Village up to $30,600.

CAO Anne Yanciw said the assessment will inform the Village if additional infrastructure is required to implement whistle cessation at the two rail crossings.

Yanciw told The Goat the Village has explored whistle cessation at various times over the years in response to resident complaints. She said the main issues residents have with train whistles stem from noise, vibration, and loss of sleep. She noted whistle cessation would not address vibration concerns.

“At that time, there were no crossing arms, which is a requirement prior to considering whistle cessation. CN’s response at that time was that they would install crossing arms if the Village was willing to decommission one crossing — either 5th Avenue or Dogwood Street. For emergency egress reasons, this wasn’t deemed possible,” Yanciw said.

She said a few years ago, crossing arms at certain railway crossings were mandated through a Transport Canada program, with Valemount receiving crossing arms at the Dogwood, 5th Avenue, McKirdy Road, and Cedarside rail crossings.

Yanciw said while the Village hasn’t formally tracked rail complaints, anecdotally there may have been an increase in resident complaints after the crossing arms were installed.

“It is safe to say that the expectation from citizens was that the installation of crossing arms would mean cessation of the train whistles. When that did not happen, citizens questioned why, and again brought forward their disappointment,” Yanciw said.

The Village is currently at stage two of the eight-stage whistle cessation process and is consulting with CN to see if cessation is feasible at the two crossings. Next, the Village must notify the public and issue a public notice, stating its intention to pass a resolution to stop train whistling at the Dogwood and 5th Avenue crossings. It will then engage with CN after the assessment is complete and come to an agreement if the crossings meet whistling cessation requirements before it can pass a resolution. Whistle cessation requirements for crossings with one track and a speed limit of 25 km to 81 km per hour require flashing lights and a bell, while crossings with two tracks or more require flashing lights, a bell and a gate.