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There’s Smoke in Mirror

by on July 7, 2010

The Hamlet of Mirror – a small community nestled deep in the Alberta heartlands.

However, the calm and tranquility of rural life has abruptly ended in a nightmare for a number of residents when CN Rail decided to move employee bunkhouses adjacent to their backyards.

With the bunkhouses came an unanticipated and very unpleasant surprise.

Within a short period of time, the area in around their homes became a location in which numbers of locomotives were left idling, subjecting residents to noise, vibration, and fumes, often for hours on end, making it impossible to enjoy any reasonable quality of life.

Some residents are now living in the midst of thick diesel exhaust, in and around their homes, and question the safety of this practice and the potential impact this is having upon their health.

One resident reports CN telling her to keep her windows closed in the midst of a heat wave in order to try to keep the fumes out of her home.

The same resident reports that, even though CN has said that its locomotives are designated to be shut down in temperatures in excess of 5 Celsius, the problem persists and is causing her mother, who is almost 80 years old, considerable upset and anxiety.

She also states that, despite various assurances from CN, locomotives continue to be left parked and running close to her elderly mother’s home.

In 2007, The Railway Association of Canada, of which CN Rail is a member, issued a Best Practices report that addressed proximity issues in order to help prevent the type of conflicts that can arise when railways and residences are developed too closely together.

The bunkhouses, and the accompanying idling engines came after the issuance of this report, it seems.

The question therefore is why did CN develop facilities in such a location that seems to be very much at odds with this report?

Surely, some common sense – and neighborliness – can be considered here, CN.

Relocation of the bunkhouses – and of idling locomotives – away from homes surely is not unreasonable, given the hardship that these folks have drawn to your attention.

It’s win – win. Your employees have a better chance of getting the rest they need in order to fulfill their duties, being located away from daytime noise that can be reasonably expected in a residential setting, and the residents can then return to a reasonable quality of life.

This is a problem that can be easily turned into an opportunity to better the relationship between the community, and the railway.

CN, do the right thing…help these folks.

© Copyright 2010

  1. Judith George permalink

    AMEN !

  2. goldspike permalink

    We wish the affected residents of Mirror a return to a normal quality of life.

    What these folks have been forced to endure is truly deplorable. Despite its isolated location, CN Rail decided that the only place to deposit employee bunkhouses was next to resident homes, at a distance so close it would be obvious that it would be well-known, in advance to the rail company that this would be an assured proximity problem in the making…

    What use is it when The Railway Association of Canada and The Canadian Federation of Municipalities publish a guideline that addresses problems such as this, only to have an RAC member, CN Rail, ignore it…

    During recent heat waves, residents have found themselves boxed in by idling locomotives and thick diesel exhaust, with CN telling them it is the responsibility of the residents to keep their doors and windows shut to keep fumes out, and suffocating heat in.

    This is neither fair nor reasonable, and a very sad comment on the utter lack of regard in which big rail holds a small – but tenacious – community.

  3. margaret szakszon permalink

    This is a no-brainer!! The raile line is intruding on the daily lives of private citizens.
    causing them undue stress in their well-being due to having to inhale fumes from
    idling engines. This is unconscionable in the summer heat to being bad enough
    to prevent residents from opening their windows, in a heat wave.

    It behooves the railway company to move the bunkhouses and thence the idling trains!!

    It is the MORAL SOLUTION. I Understood that the people owned CN railway.
    and this should settled immediately.!!! There is a lot of land available to move.

    • goldspike permalink

      Yes, we agree that CN Rail has shown these residents a shocking lack of regard and consideration.

      There is something terribly wrong when such little value is placed on quality of life issues, and on people.

      The net result is that CN has a very negative relationship with these stakeholders in their operations, and needlessly so.

      We’re hoping that CN reconsiders, and turns this situation around to be an example of how problems can be collaboratively resolved with rail companies – directly.

      There’s an opportunity here, but will CN see it?

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