By Andrea Horton
At the regular council meeting on March 26 in Fernie, council passed a motion for Canadian Pacific Rail (CPR) to stop the train whistle from blowing through town from one quarter mile north passed 13th Street to one quarter mile south of Mt. McLean.
The gallery was filled with people speaking out against train whistle cessation for many different reasons including the financial cost that will be incurred in order to stop the whistle, the nostalgia of hearing the whistle, safety issues and the effects of having a chain link fence splitting the town in two.
Council stressed that no money has been spent on this initiative so far and more community input is needed before any action is taken.
“There is no right answer to this,” said Councillor Phil Iddon. “We are looking for as much public input as possible, other than our time we are not putting meaningful money into it.”
“We have to respect the people who are impacted by this,” said Councillor Randal Macnair. “That said, it is our job to set priorities. We have a lot of things to take care of and the financial cost of stopping the whistle is probably going to be significant and I am not willing to support putting money towards that when there are other things that are much more practical.”
Mayor Mary Giuliano clarified that she will not support a six foot high fence going through the middle of town as council is trying to beautify our city and a chain link fence undermines those efforts. Giuliano specified that there are other avenues that can be taken towards whistle cessation and council is going to look into each one.
Mr. Dan Cox, representing the Better Our Living Downtown (BOLD) committee, encouraged council to go forward and look at all of the alternatives and not to be discouraged by cost. He stated that the cost over the term of the life of a community is negligible while quality of life issues go on forever and it really becomes important not to get caught up in the nostalgia of the train whistle.
“These things just don’t carry merit when it comes to improving our lifestyle,” said Cox.
CPR’s issue with whistle cessation is that of safety, and trespassers on the tracks and they have already stated that they would require a chain link fence on both sides of the tracks within a quarter mile of each crossing if whistle cessation is to be achieved.