Transport Canada would no longer consider Maple Creek to have a safe crossing, if the train whistle was stopped, Town Council heard.
Councillor Cara Teichroeb said the information came out of a webinar she attended on rail safety.
The online event covered Transport Canada, rail legislation and new regulations.
“One thing that I found interesting and relevant to us was regarding the train whistle,” she told the March 23 Council meeting.
She said there was an appendix in the rail Act explaining what needs to be done if a community wants to end a train whistle.
“As far as Transportation Canada is concerned if we ever stopped the whistle we would be considered to no longer have a safe crossing. I thought that was very important information to hear and to delve a little bit deeper into.”
Teichroeb added that there were changes to rail legislation that would affect planning.
For example, new regulations would impact plans to “build something” around the track that would include a parking lot.
The good news, said Teichroeb, was that there were Transport Canada grant possibilities.
Michelle McKenzie, the Mayor, thanked Teichroeb for the information. She said that Town may need to look at the new regulations.
After the meeting, McKenzie said the conversation over the train whistle was ongoing.
“There are still people who would like to see the train whistle cease,” she said.
The issue had been put “on the back-burner, but not forgotten” after a change in Council administration and the challenges raised by COVID-19.
McKenzie said laws relating to train whistle had changed down the years.
The train whistle issue has been raised by Darcy Chmilar, who runs Willowbend Motel and Willowbend Campground and Cabins. He called on Town councillors to end the whistle, saying it disturbed his customers and anybody working near the train track at all hours.
He said the whistle had become so commonplace that it had lost its power to warn.
The last vote on train whistles was held at the Armoury on November 6, 2014. Of the 365 residents who took part, 225 (62 per cent) wanted the whistle to sound, while 140 wanted it silenced.
Maple Creek also held a train whistle plebiscite in 2012 when forms were sent out with water bills: 273 people were in favour of the whistle, 114 against.