Council Notes: Seeking silent railroad crossing

Bylaws prohibit truckers from using jake brakes within the municipal limits but train whistles are allowed

“Vavenby was able to get a no-whistle railroad crossing. Why not Clearwater?”

That was the question Anita Cathomas asked District of Clearwater council  Tuesday evening June 5.

Cathomas said they moved into their house near the cemetery about six years ago. Even though it is some distance from the railroad they are constantly disrupted by the noise from the crossing, she said.

“If there were flashing lights and crossing bar there, there would be no need for whistles,” she said.

Cathomas noted that bylaws prohibit truckers from using jake brakes within the municipal limits, but train whistles are allowed.

Europe has thousands more trains than North America.

“Can you imagine the noise if they all used their whistles?” she asked.

The local resident has collected close to 50 names on a petition calling for the end of whistles at the crossing.

Councilor Merlin Blackwell said there are some precedents but that the process could take seven to 10 years.

During later discussion, Mayor John Harwood noted that the City of New Westminster is calling for the Union of BC Municipalities to form a railway committee. The committee would look into concerns such as crossings, idling, use of herbicides, and whistle cessation.

Program helps women’s safety

A new program at Yellowhead Community Services Society’s main goal is to make the North Thompson Valley safer for all women and girls.

That was part of the message Wendy Vogels, program coordinator for Community Connections for Women’s Safety, brought to town council.

The new program would not just address domestic violence or physical violence or even just those directly impacted by violence, Vogels said.

She hoped to establish through interviews how serious the problem is.

“I feel there is a lot more than we know about,” she said. “It’s a small town … they’re afraid. I hope I find out.”

Vogels also operates the Safe Home response for women and others who need a place to stay to get out of a dangerous situation. Sometimes she can go for months without a call, she said. At other times she can have four or five calls in one night.

Vogels asked Clearwater council to appoint a representative to its committee. Mayor John Harwood said, as with most such requests, they would take it under advisement.

Money for ambulance training

Town council approved setting aside $1,000 for a scholarship to be used by local ambulance attendants to upgrade their skills.

Getting and keeping qualified paramedics is a constant challenge, said Mayor John Harwood.

He said he had been discussing with MLA Terry Lake the possibility of rural ambulance attendants being put to work in hospitals so they can have full-time jobs, rather than spending so much time making $2 per hour on standby.

Councilor Shelley Sim strongly opposed taking the $1,000 out of the doctor recruitment fund. Instead, the money was taken from the council’s discretionary account.