IN THE NEWS ~ Proposed bill welcomed in Thornhill

Proposed bill welcomed in Thornhill
By Kim Zarzour, yorkregion.com

A private member’s bill that would control railway noise in residential areas is “fabulous news”, Ward 1 Councillor Valerie Burke said. “It’s really encouraging. We need all the help we can get.”

The bill, tabled in the House of Commons by British Columbia MP Peter Julian this week, would prohibit railway companies from engaging in noisy
railyard activities in residential areas between the hours of 10 p.m. and 8 a.m.

Residents in Johnsview, Ladyslipper, Bayview Glen and some Ward 2 neighbourhoods have been fighting for years for quiet in their communities, which abut CN’s busy rail line. They say the noise is worse now than 20 years ago.

A Thanksgiving rally led by Thornhill MP Peter Kent shone the spotlight on squealing steel-on-steel noise, seven-day-a-week local maintenance and loud two-way radios, horns and idling engines.

Mr. Julian introduced Bill C-587, The Railway Noise and Vibration Control Act Wednesday. MP Bill Siksay seconded the bill.

Mr. Kent said he is reviewing the proposed legislation and looks forward “to the bill making its way through the Parliamentary process, which includes vigorous debate in the House of Commons as well as the committee process”.

After passing the House of Commons in 2007, Senate changed provisions of Bill C-11 dealing with railway noise.
“Senate gutted the bill’s regulations to allow ‘reasonable’ amounts of noise, a phrase open to heavy interpretation,” Mr. Julian said.

This protected railway companies and ensured they would continue to pay only lip service to the complaints of residents, he said. “The time for a conciliatory approach is over, the railway companies have been unresponsive and now we’ve been forced to push for tough legislation to address this issue.”

Thornhill residents have found the noise in their area unbearable, Councillor Burke said.

“CN removed the scrap metal bin and that was a big improvement, but they have problems with things like walkie-talkies and shouting and bad language from the workers. CN has shown no consideration for residents.”

Mr. Julian’s bill is in response to growing concerns of constituents who live near the Westminster Quay railyard in B.C. He said railway companies across the country continue to carry out noisy activities including idling, sorting, coupling, decoupling and shunting of trains throughout the evening, overnight and early in the morning, seriously disrupting the lives of local residents.

Toinette Bezant, with Bayview Glen Residents Association, said the bill is welcome, but doesn’t go far enough. When the rail companies introduced 4,500-horsepower locomotives in recent years, they were more powerful and able to carry heavier loads, increasing noise and vibrations, she said.
“That was a game-changer as far as we are concerned.”

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