PUSLINCH – A group of Arkell residents have expressed concern with Guelph Junction Railway (GJR) operation impacts on the hamlet.
Bruce Taylor, representing the train committee of Concerned Citizens of Puslinch, asked Puslinch council to bring their concerns forward in ongoing conversations with GJR.
In total they had seven items they wanted CAO Glenn Schwendinger to bring forward the next time he meets with GJR.
The seven items were:
- Closure of the Arkell siding
- Loud humming noises from extracting materials from trains cars to transport trucks
- The whistling and horn of the train
- Hours of operation, especially after midnight
- Knowledge of cargo and if it is dangerous to residents
- Liability to the township if there is a derailment or accident
- Removal of railway ties laying beside GJR tracks
Taylor said although the Arkell siding has been in operation for many years and used to bring one train per day through. This has changed dramatically in the past three years and Taylor said the use has become unsuitable for the area.
“Now it’s become a switching operation, where you connect and disconnect cars, for them to do that it has to block Arkell Road,” Taylor said, adding it often blocks the road for periods of time contrary to Transport Canada regulations. “The maximum that Transport Canada allows the train to block roads is five minutes.”
Overall, Taylor said the noise is bothering residents whether it be general operations, a noisy loading hopper or horn blasts.
He said he followed the train to keep track of where it blasted its horn. He said it whistled at all four crossings in Arkell but did not do so when in Guelph. He called this a double standard and wanted to know why they are treated differently from Guelph residents.
“Two nights ago, it blasted those long-short-longs (horns) at 12:48 in the morning, that wakes the whole community up,” Taylor said. “Meanwhile in a densely-populated city, where you think they’d have more reason to blast the horn, they don’t blast it at all.”
Council thanked Taylor for coming forward with the group’s concerns and assured him staff have had ongoing conversations with GJR.
Coun. John Sepulis put forward a motion to have Schwendinger bring these concerns forward to GJR.
Coun. Sara Bailey was hesitant to request GJR to stop blowing the horn because she assumed it was there for safety purposes.
Mayor James Seeley agreed and said this is possibly a legal requirement which they shouldn’t request removing safety features.
He said Taylor's points are worth raising but he had other points as well.
“I have an email from the ... CAO of the railway stating that siding was going to be for storage only and now they’re using it for offloading,” Seeley said. “My other concern is the driveway access. I don’t know if they went to the county to get approval for a driveway for those transport trucks going in and out of there.”
The motion was amended to include those points as well which passed.
Later in the meeting, Schwendinger gave an update on the township’s ongoing conversations with GJR.
He said the company is very open to addressing township concerns and will be providing a written response in the coming weeks based on past noise complaints.
He said this is a favourable sign they are taking concerns seriously.
Schwendinger also said they have suggested setting up regular meetings on an ongoing basis to continue to have a good relationship with the township.