IN THE NEWS ~ Quayside group files formal complaint over train noise

Quayside group files formal complaint over train noise
By Andrew Fleming - New Westminster News Leader

Many Quayside residents are hoping they'll soon be able to sleep more soundly at night.

The Quayside Community Board (QCB) filed a complaint April 13 with the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) over the amount of noise made overnight by rail companies that operate in the yard beside the waterfront community.

Under CTA guidelines, a decision must be reached within 120 days of a complaint being filed.

"They're not working all night, but they'll go for an hour or so at 3 a.m.," said board member Brian Allen, who is spearheading the campaign. "There is absolutely no good reason they can't get the work they need done in the daytime. But mainly the rail companies, CN in particular, are just used to doing things the way they did in the olden days and don't like having things imposed on them."

A ruling by the CTA has the full effect of the law and companies that ignore them risk severe fines for non-compliance.

In 2009, the QCB became the first community in Canada to successfully mediate a settlement on the issue of rail noise using the provisions in Federal Bill C-11. Several rail companies consequently signed an agreement to work to eliminate unreasonable noise and vibrations generated by nighttime operations and to provide monthly reports to the community regarding complaints they receive from a new 24-hour complaint line. One year later and having not yet received a single report or noticed any nightly changes, the Quayside group is ready to play hard ball.

"This isn't rocket science," said Allen. "Everything could be done during the day but these guys just don't want to take the time to change their schedules and have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the twenty-first century. When the rail yards were built, it was a light industrial area but now it is heavy-use, high-density and people have to live here."

Allen is confident the CTA will rule in their favour as there is already a precedent set at airports. While landing is still allowed, airports no longer allow planes to take off between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. over residential areas due to the amount of noise created and the group is hoping the same hours will soon be off limits for trains.

A community forum on the issue featuring Burnaby-New Westminster MP Peter Julian and members of New Westminster City Council will be held at Inn at the Quay (900 Quayside Dr.) on May 30 at 2 p.m. They are also organizing a petition for affected residents to sign in support of the complaint to the CTA. Visit www.quaysideboard.com for more information.

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