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City railway advisory panel in the works

Brian Allen, right, along with fellow Quayside resident James Crosty, has been battling railways about the noise they create for years. Allen says an advisory panel proposed by the city doesn’t have enough power. - Mario Bartel/NewsLeader file photo
Brian Allen, right, along with fellow Quayside resident James Crosty, has been battling railways about the noise they create for years. Allen says an advisory panel proposed by the city doesn’t have enough power.
— image credit: Mario Bartel/NewsLeader file photo

The city is looking at establishing a railway community advisory panel (CAP), but its terms of reference don’t impress a Quayside resident who has battled the railways over noise for several years.

On Monday, city council will consider a staff report recommending the establishment of the panel. It would meet quarterly and include a representative of each of the railway companies, two from the city, one from emergency and up to three residents.

It would be co-chaired by the mayor, or someone he appoints, and a railway company rep.

“This committee has the potential to improve communications between the City and the Railways. It also has the potential to assist in resolving community concerns. However, it should be noted the CAP will not replace or usurp community complaints filed with the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA),” said the report.

But Brian Allen, who is the rail advisory rep on the Quayside Community Board, said he supports a panel, but doesn’t agree with its terms of reference because it doesn’t have any teeth.

“It is merely a forum for people to voice concern, but there is no obligation of the rail companies to do anything about it. There’s no enforceability,” said Allen, speaking as an individual and not for the board. “A panel like that where complaints are brought to the table, if there cannot be an acceptable agreed upon solution the advisory panel should be able to refer the matter to the Canada Transportation Agency for a solution. But the rail companies would never agree to something like that, and the city would not want to have things imposed upon them by the agency.”

Allen said residents can complain to the panel about the railway making noise at 3:30 a.m., but the railways can still say, “That’s life, live with it.”

Allen was a signatory to a settlement agreement with the railways companies four years ago. But when the community felt the railway didn’t live up to its obligations under the agreement it complained to the CTA. Since then, said Allen, the community has not heard from the railway companies, only their legal departments.

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