Depending on your point of view, the haunting, or annoying train horns will soon fall silent in Maple Ridge.
Council passed a resolution Tuesday, asking that horns, or whistles, no longer be sounded at eight crossings where the CP Railway track runs through Maple Ridge.
With the decision made, the city will inform CP Railway, which in turn will stop sounding the horns by the end of the year.
The decision also applies to the West Coast Express commuter system, which runs on weekdays.
To allow trains to stop blasting their horns, however, some crossings had to be improved, in particular those at Port Haney and Maple Meadows Way. That required installation of 1.8-metre-high security fences at both spots, at a cost of about $40,000, to prevent people from crossing the track.
A previous engineering study had identified minor improvements at the rail crossings in Maple Ridge, at an approximate cost of $30,000.
Port Haney resident Robert Massey pushed council for four years to make the change. He lives near the tracks on 116th Avenue and 227th Street, about a block and a half away, and the trains are a persistent disruption, and he has to wait for the trains to pass before he can hear the radio or TV.
“That’s great. It’s been a long time,” he said Wednesday.
“The noise is unbearable when you get nine blasts within 30 seconds.”
Cities across Canada are taking similar measures, he added. “All the municipalities are going that route.”
“Anybody who lives there where I am, you don’t need it for common sense. It’s like somebody blasting their horn in front of your house.”
Coun. Kiersten Duncan, however, was the sole councillor to vote against, although she understands the concerns of residents. Other city politicians share her concerns, she added.
“It’s a safety issue at the end of the day and a lot of accidents are avoided because of the train whistles.
“I don’t believe it’s a good idea to get rid of the whistles. I don’t think it’s appropriate to ban them,” adding she’s more concerned about safety than neighbours who may be annoyed by the horns.
She knows that staff have been working hard on improving the crossings, but horns should remain.
People know if there’s a train track nearby when they move into an area, she added.
Coun. Gordy Robson, though, said that the city has been told there’s no difference in accident statistics between cities where horns are sounded or not.
He compared sounding a train horn at every crossing to a car honking before every intersection. If a train engineer sees someone on the track, of course the horn will be sounded, he said.
Residents near the West Coast Express train station also started a petition last year, calling for the horns to stop. Petition organizer Marilyn Cowie has since moved to Langley to escape the noise.
Massey estimates he hears the blasts three or four times at night and maybe four or five times a day, although he doesn’t know how many trains actually pass by in a 24-hour period.
The other railway crossings where horns no longer will be sounded are at 113B Avenue, Lorne Avenue, Ditton Street, River Road/Tamarack Lane, 240th Street and 287th Street, basically along the length of the track from one end of Maple Ridge to the other.
“Maple Ridge continues to work with CP Rail and Transport Canada with the expectation that the formal train whistle process will be completed and train whistles will stop by the end of the year,” said a release from the city.