Train strikes a public health crisis

Last week we saw the very best of Terrace: as the flooding mounted, strangers filled sandbags for affected homeowners; search and rescue teams waded through human waste and gas leaks to check on people’s welfare; and the volunteers were a force that mitigated all serious impacts of a flood that in the end caused not a single serious injury.

That’s why the public response to another tragedy this week is so disheartening.

Due to circumstances unknown someone was again struck by a train in CN’s Terrace rail yard. She survived, while three other people in the past two years have not. But this woman is hardly laughing with her good fortune. In our effort to be factual, we described her suffering as an “extreme injury to her foot,” but any internal damage is so far unknown, as are secondary injuries and the depth of her psychological scars. The specific description of her foot as “extreme” also downplays the seriousness of her situation as we try to verify witness statements.

At some point this person made a choice and it proved a poor one, and it’s for this lapse of good judgment that comments directed at her online and on the streets have been overwhelmingly hostile.

Newspapers know all too well that for every negative comment expressed, there are 10 positive that go unsaid. It’s unlikely this will help the victim or her family feel better.

But because this woman is alive she can potentially provide us a valuable perspective on this issue. If we ask. Criticism alone is not a response that’s healthy for a community. Instead, when a tragedy becomes a trend we typically begin a process of dulling the sharp edges of our surroundings to make it more forgiving of our choices. We consider roundabouts over four-way stops. We help our neighbours fill sandbags. We even float the idea of installing surveillance cameras in high-crime areas. We look after each other whether or not we share the problem.

Our elected officials have issued words and actions to get something done at the rail yard; better fencing and a pedestrian overpass are two options that have long been on the table. But CN’s response to this incident–telling citizens to stay off their property for their own good—ignores both human behaviour and the ramifications of their presence in the community. It sounds more like the criticism we’re reading online. CN has authority over this city’s largest geographical feature, a chasm tearing up the centre of town. Nothing here has greater presence and social influence than perhaps the Skeena River itself.

Those who cross the tracks will not stop needing the shortcut, nor will their economic situation suddenly afford them a cab or a new car on cold nights, after long days, or after a few drinks.

The rhetoric surrounding the issue needs to change from one of a series of isolated incidents, blamed on those trying to cross town, to a public health crisis.

Just Posted

Terrace restaurants reach their last straw

Action part of trend toward the discontinuation of single-use plastics

Woodfibre LNG also leaning green

Woodfibre LNG is also leaning green Dear Editor, I would like to… Continue reading

Winter road maintenance standards boosted

Quicker response times to be implemented

Single-family home sales climbing in Terrace

The BCNREB findings were among several economic indicators Myles presented to council last week

Daycares hear from province on subsidy approval

Terrace daycare centre said they expect to see funds come through this week for families

Terrace roller derby team solidifies strong start to season

The North Coast Nightmares beat the Rated PG Roller Girls, and exceeded expected score ratios twice

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Countdown is on to the 2018 B.C. Summer Games

Cowichan Valley hosts on July 19-22

Driving Change: A B.C. man’s charitable trip across Canada

A Kelowna man, his bus, and his mission for positive change across our country

Case of teacher secretly filming teens reaches top court

Acquittal of teacher, Ryan Jarvis, who secretly videoed teens ‘dangerous,’ top court told

Why a 14-year-old will lead the charge at annual marijuana protest on the Hill

Marijuana enthusiasts have long been circling April 20 on their calendars as annual day of cannabis

B.C. communities await marine spill compensation years after incidents

The government maintains a Ship Source Oil Pollution Fund to compensate Canadians

RCMP say too early to know what happened in Broncos crash

RCMP Assistant Commissioner Curtis Zablocki said collission very complex

Conservative MP wants feds to close loophole for illegal border crossers

Immigration advocates call on government to suspend Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement

Most Read