MoWest residents' petition seeks resolution to train issues

MoWest council during the Aug. 31 videoconferenced meeting.

Montreal West council last week deposited a petition from residents of Ronald Drive, Brock South and Ballantyne South, which “seeks the assistance and support of the Town as they proceed with a formal complaint process to the Canadian Transport Agency to help resolve a matter with CN operations,” Montreal West Mayor Beny Masella told the Aug. 31 council meeting.

The Mayor explained that “since the reconfiguration of rail lines in response to the Turcot rebuild, the residents in that area have had to live frequently with trains being left to idle behind their homes, sometimes for more than 24 hours, while CN changes their crew, waits for the green light to proceed to the port, repairs their equipment or just deals with their usual rail traffic.

“And with every train that causes noise, vibration and CO2 emissions as they idle in our residents’ backyards, our residents let me know about it,” Masella pointed out. “And to be clear, the town does not have any jurisdiction on rail operations.”

The Mayor said he hears many times that the trains were present before Confederation in 1867.

“But with every complaint, I reach out to my contacts at CN and to [Transport] Minister Marc Garneau’s office. Because I direct my emails high enough, CN usually responds and temporarily fixes their problem.”

Masella noted that the council passed a motion in June 2018 “calling upon CN to eliminate the problems they are causing.

“But, there was an incident again this weekend [Aug. 29-30] where CN was repairing a train, while the engines were idling. I sent my email to Sean Finn, Executive Vice-President, Corporate Services and Chief Legal Officer and his team and immediately received a response that he has requested to have this issue addressed ASAP. Now however, its time for a permanent resolution. Mr. Finn, I respectfully request that you make it your point to address and permanently fix these problems with CN’s operations.”

The 53-name (at the time of the Aug. 31 meeting) petition says the increased train noise, vibrations and emissions “affects seriously the health and the well-being of the residents of Ronald Drive and the nearby streets – Brock South, Courtney, etc.

“Moreover, the retaining wall that is being installed currently at the end of Brock South, covers only the beginning of Ronald Drive and not the rest of it, which creates a serious safety risk from potential train accidents involving dangerous substances to the residents of Ronald Drive living only 30 metres away from the tracks.”

The signatories add that after numerous complaints since the end of 2019, “we intend to seek a permanent resolution of this matter and file a formal complaint — first with Town of Montreal West, then CN and if there is no satisfactory resolution, eventually with the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA).

“This matter has been going unresolved for so long, that we have lost faith in any temporary measures/promises and are resolved to seek a permanent solution to the issue.”

The petition also proposes that the town council adopt and incorporate the Proximity to Railway Operations Guidelines for Municipalities into its municipal planning and zoning by-laws.

“A growing number of municipalities all over Canada have been adopting these guidelines developed jointly by The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) and the Railway Association of Canada (RAC), particularly after the Lac-Mégantic train accident in 2013. In addition, new higher standards for noise pollution and emissions protection are being brought up across Canada and in Montreal, which current CN traffic and operations in Montreal West no longer comply with. By making this proposal, we would like our town’s environmental standards to measure up to the best practices in the country, not to the worst.”

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