I guess I haven’t been paying attention because I just discovered that St. Albert City Council has convinced the feds to waste $500,000 to “fence off” the railroad tracks that run through St. Albert. Am also told that this fencing plan is necessary to prevent injuries to pedestrians walking on railroad tracks, and vehicles caught on crossings. Now, I don’t recall anyone being injured at railroad crossings in our city for a very long time, but perhaps my memory fails me.
As I considered this development, two thoughts came to mind:
1. I do know that many individuals, over the years, have been injured on St. Albert roads, so I’m puzzled as to why city council is not also fencing off all of our roadways. Pedestrians are regularly injured, if not killed, on our roads, so in the interest in safety (assuming that is the real reason) why not fence off all our roads as well? Are we really interested in safety, or are we actually only interested in safety that someone else pays for? And if there isn’t enough money to fence off the railroads and the regular roads, let’s spend the money more “wisely” and just fence off the regular roads.
2. When it comes to safety, it strikes me that the major overriding safety issue surrounds what products these trains are carrying. After all, there are locations in St. Albert where the trains run between housing developments on two sides of the rail tracks, and other areas where housing is on one side of the tracks, and commercial developments are on the other side. Many years ago, I attempted to find out what these trains were carrying. I contacted CN Rail and was politely told that there was “no way in hell” that they would release that information. I then lobbied city hall to use their political power to find out the answers, but they showed absolutely no interest in obtaining this information. Heaven only knows what dangerous chemicals and other toxic products are in some of these cars. A derailment on these tracks is simply a matter of time – it will occur – and when it does, apparently no one knows what products are going to spill out of these boxcars, tanker cars, gondola cars, etc. Isn’t this a far greater risk to St. Albert residents than the problem that city council is trying to solve? I can only hope our fire department staff is more up to speed on this issue than our city council appears to be.
Once again, our elected leaders have decided they need to babysit every citizen in our city, citizens who apparently don’t have enough brains to stop walking in front of massive locomotives. Or maybe they do have enough brains – since no one I have spoken to can remember anyone ever being hurt on the rail tracks that run through town. So, again, more money wasted. More expenses, more rules, more policies, more employees to enforce the rules, and the policies and write reports and gather data. It simply never ends, and neither do the taxes.
It’s fine for city council to say “it didn’t cost us much money.” While true, the feds paid for most of this and guess who the feds get their money from? Us, again, the taxpayer.
Federal, provincial, or municipal – it all comes from us. Quit wasting our money!
Brian McLeod is a St. Albert resident.