Early morning train whistles in southwest Calgary prompted city officials to investigate a whistling strike after several complaints in the area.
Calgary’s Community Development Committee heard Thursday that the CP railroad crossing at 210 Ave. SW sees about five trains a day.
When those trains roll through, they sound a whistle that lasts about 20 seconds.
City officials told the committee that those whistles have led to complaints to the city from some of the newer communities in the area such as Walden, Legacy, Pine Creek and Belmont.
It is unclear how many complaints the city has received.
According to the city, the intersection was realigned last year and a new at-grade intersection was built along with bells and traffic signals.
“As a result, the need to whistle from the trains to signal their approach and arrival is no longer necessary due to the premium safety measures that have been put in place,” Ward 11 Councilor and Committee Chair Kourtney Penner told reporters.
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The move to silence the whistles at the crossing comes as a surprise to Meryl Coombs, who runs the Spruce It Up Garden Center just yards from the railroad tracks.
“I would say it’s a bit of a surprise,” Coombs told Global News. “But I don’t think my bedroom is right next door.”
The garden center has been in that location for 17 years, and Coombs said he’s not bothered by the whistles.
“It’s not offensive to us at all,” Coombs said. “I quite like the odd train noise, a bit of atmosphere.”
Megan Janzen, who lives in Walden, said she hears the train whistle early in the morning, but is not bothered by the noise.
“I wake up early, so it doesn’t really bother me,” she said. “But if you’re someone who sleeps later, it might bother you. You can definitely hear it.”
Cherie Reaburn told Global News that the train whistles are no worse than the traffic noise from 210 Avenue, but it can be bothersome in the evening.
“I hear them — they’re a little annoying,” Reaburn told Global News.
Several other residents who spoke to Global News on Thursday said they were relatively unperturbed by the train whistles.
According to the city, there are 54 level crossings in Calgary near residential areas that already have whistle stop resolutions in place.
Committee heard the city should issue each whistle stop on a case-by-case basis rather than a city-wide ordinance.
“In many cases, intersections within the city do not have the highest level of protection. They don’t have bells, gates and lights. They are at-grade intersections with just trestles,” Canace Bain, a traffic engineering co-ordinator with the City of Calgary, told the committee.
“We will have to look at upgrading – with the railway – all those crossings to provide that level of protection.”
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Committee voted 6-1 in favor of approving the whistleblower strike with Ward 10 Coun. Andre Chabot voted against it.
“The impact on the adjacent residents is directly proportional to the proximity they are to where the whistle is actually blown,” Chabot told the committee. “There is no direct correlation with how loud it is perceived by the residents.”
The city council will still have to make the final decision on the whistle strike.
If approved, the City of Calgary will have to notify CP Rail and Transport Canada of the policy change in the area.
CP Rail did not respond to Global News’ request for comment.
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