While reducing train whistling is possible at crossings, train crews are required to whistle at all public crossings regardless of the type of crossing warning system in place, according to CN. (Black Press file photo)

While reducing train whistling is possible at crossings, train crews are required to whistle at all public crossings regardless of the type of crossing warning system in place, according to CN. (Black Press file photo)

Houston residents pile pressure on council over rail concerns

Petition gathers over 400 signatures

Houston residents are putting pressure on district council to continue their efforts to improve railway safety.

Longtime Houston resident Ron Harris said he’s gone door knocking to gather approximately 430 signatures in favour of a petition he’s presented to district council.

The petition, presented during the public comment period of last week’s regular council meeting, urges council to “act now” to install a gated level crossing where Benson Avenue crosses the CN tracks.

“It’s the only entrance to that neighbourhood,” Harris told the Houston Today. “If there was an accident there, it blocks about 60 homes and a water treatment plant, and there’s no way to get medical or fire [personnel] to protect people.”

Apart from the safety risk, Harris said rail traffic through Houston has also resulted in noise pollution. He hopes the installation of a gated level crossing, or crossing arms, would address both the safety risk and the noise of train whistles.

The District of Houston has already been taking steps to address these concerns. Council members met with CN officials earlier this fall.

READ MORE: Council meets with CN to discuss Benson crossing improvements

The financing for the crossing arms would require the district to seek outside funding, however, so the district has asked CN for financial assistance.

Gerald Pinchbeck, the district’s chief administrative officer, said more discussions are still needed.

“There is no funding commitment at this time for any crossings from CN, nor any timeline established for whistle cessation,” Pinchbeck said. “Staff are working with CN Rail at this point.”

CN has released a similar statement, saying it “continues to work with the District of Houston to discuss potential solutions and will continue to engage with them.”

With regard to train whistles, CN said that while reducing train whistling is possible at crossings, train crews are required to whistle at all public crossings regardless of the type of crossing warning system in place. A municipality can apply to halt whistles at some locations but that requires a series of steps beginning with a detailed safety assessment.

Harris said that while he took the initiative to start the petition, the safety and noise concerns have been expressed by local residents for at least 20 years. Out of all the people he contacted, he said, only a handful of residents weren’t interested in signing the petition.

“It’s been brought up again and again, but it’s always been passed over,” Harris said. “Safety should be the number one priority in any community.”

—With files from Rod Link

Just Posted

Parking time is to be limited in one spot on 9th. (Houston Today photo)
District seeks grant to update bylaws

And decides on 15-minute parking

Bench installation on 9th Street is another sign the project is nearing completion. (Houston Today photo)
Progress being made on 9th Street finish

District aiming for June completion

File photo
Mental health checks proving valuable

Police officer and nurse team up each week

The two billboards for the Cow Moose Sign project arrived in Topley last week with Justin Cradock, owner of Pitbull Trucking Ltd. and the area is now getting prepared for installation. (Dan Simmons photo/Houston Today)
Cow Moose sign project billboards arrive in Topley

Two billboards for the Cow Moose Sign project have arrived in Topley… Continue reading

File photo
Snow clearing changes would cost money, survey finds

Council being asked to give direction

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10-million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

Sicamous RCMP Sgt. Murray McNeil and Cpl. Wade Fisher present seven-year-old Cody Krabbendam of Ranchero with an award for bravery on July 22, 2020. (Contributed)
7-year old Shuswap boy receives medal of bravery for rescuing child at beach

Last summer Cody Krabbendam jumped into the lake to save another boy from drowning

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the province’s COVID-19 vaccine program, May 10, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays below 500 a day over weekend

14 more deaths, down to 350 in hospital as of Monday

Royal Bay Secondary School’s rainbow crosswalk was vandalized shortly after being painted but by Monday, coincidentally the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, the crosswalk had been cleaned up and students had surrounded it with chalk messages of support and celebration. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C. high’s school’s pride crosswalk restored following ‘hateful’ graffiti attack

Hate terms, racial slur, phallic images spray-painted at Greater Victoria high school

Terrance Mack would have celebrated his 34th birthday on May 13, 2021. Mack’s family has identified him as the victim of a homicide in an apartment on Third Avenue in Port Alberni sometime in April. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Family identifies Ucluelet man as victim of Vancouver Island homicide

Terrance Mack being remembered as ‘kind, gentle’ man

Vancouver Canucks’ Jake Virtanen (18) and Calgary Flames’ Josh Leivo, front right, vie for the puck as goalie Jacob Markstrom, back left, watches during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, on Saturday, February 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver Canucks forward Jake Virtanen sued over alleged sexual assault

Statement of claim says the woman, identified only by her initials, suffered physical and emotional damages

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10-million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

(Kamloops This Week)
Puppy’s home in question as BC Supreme Court considers canine clash

Justice Joel Groves granted an injunction prohibiting the sale or transfer of the dog

Most Read