In a tight split, Canmore council has voted down a proposed project to install fencing along the railway right of way between the high school and Bow Valley Trail.
Councillor Hans Helder made the motion to remove the $100,000 fencing project, saying it is more of an enforcement issue than one that requires taxpayers’ dollars.
“It is one of those issues that I think is important to point back to individual responsibility,” he said. “Crossing the tracks is inappropriate and I am not sure the responsibility rests on the community to pay for other individuals’ lack of following rules.
“This is more of an enforcement matter than one that requires town expense to prevent people from doing what they ought not to be doing in the first place.”
Coun. Jim Ridley argued against the motion, noting CP Rail has indicated to the municipality it would apply to Transport Canada to blow its whistles at all controlled crossings unless trespassing on their property is addressed.
Ridley said with 26 trains a day on average coming through Canmore, the whistle would be detrimental.
“I would suggest that would adversely affect many in the community,” he said.
In the last seven years there have been three trespasser fatalities on the CP Rail line within the Town limits.
Last year saw the municipality’s bylaw services department begin patrolling and enforcing the petty trespass act on the rail line’s property. The move was part of an overall plan developed by the company and the Town.
The 500 metres of fencing along the right of way behind the Canmore Rec Centre was the next priority in the trespassing mitigation plan and CP was expected to fund half the project’s total cost.
Manager of engineering Kevin Van Vliet said the Town is trying to avoid the whistle being blown and the site near the Rec Centre has a high level of trespassing.
“This is the primary area where we have a lot of trespassing and (this is our response) to the Town’s mitigation plan and avoiding CP moving on blowing its whistles regularly,” he said.
Coun. Ed Russell said the Town having the burden of enforcement dumped on it is a “lousy spot to be in” and compared CP to a “spoiled child.”
Mayor Ron Casey, on the other hand, pointed out Canmore has approved development along the railway line and thus bears the responsibility to prevent trespassing.