The City of Terrace and CN are working on a plan to better fence off the rail yard in the middle of the city.
Discussions between the two parties follow two incidents the end of August in which two people trespassing on the tracks were killed after being struck by trains.
“CN recognizes it is a problem and there is going to be fencing but no specific details are ready yet,” said Terrace mayor Carol Leclerc last week.
She was part of a group which included CN managers who walked portions of the rail yard Sept. 6, observing sections where there is fencing and where there is not.
A map provided by the city of the rail yard, which is approximately 2.5km long, indicates sections where there is fencing but also significant gaps.
The challenge, said Leclerc, is deterring people from wanting to cross the tracks to locations on either side of the rail yard which divides the city.
“When 7-11 opens up, that might be an attraction,” noted Leclerc of the convenience store and gas bar now under construction on the corner of Keith Ave./Hwy 16 and Kalum on the southside and immediately adjacent to the tracks.
“The other location is behind Staples [on the north side] and A&W [on the south side],” the mayor added.
Leclerc said she felt eyes of CN officials were opened by what they observed on the tour, as they had never walked the area before.
The existing fencing along the rail yard length is a mixture of sections either installed by CN or private property owners.
The city does also own a section of fence near the northern end of Sande Overpass on the far western edge of the rail yard which was installed as part of its Grand Trunk Pathway project.
Leclerc said the city will continue to press the issue of fencing when council members meet with CN officials later this month during the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Victoria.
For years the city has also been pursuing the construction of a pedestrian overpass somewhere in the area of the Keith Ave./Hwy16 intersection.
But that would require a significant capital expenditure involving the assistance of either the federal or provincial governments or both as well as CN.
A statement from CN last week did not specifically address fencing or a pedestrian overpass but the company said it was in continuing discussions.
“We will continue to work with local community groups in Terrace to deter potential trespassers and raise awareness of rail safety. Trespassing on railway property is illegal and extremely dangerous.”
“CN continues to urge the public to stay off CN property and away from railway equipment at all times,” said the statement.
Inquiries made to Transport Canada, which regulates rail traffic in Canada, indicate there are no specific requirements for CN to install fencing along tracks through populated areas.
But when a Transport Canada inspector “is of the opinion that a person’s conduct or anything for which that person is responsible (including landowners adjacent to the railway line and road authorities) constitutes a threat to safety, the inspector may order that person to take specific access control measures,” stated Transport Canada.
An inspection of the rail yard by Transport Canada is due to take place this week.
While there may be no specific regulations regarding fencing along rail yards, CN itself does require its installation by others in certain circumstances.
That was the case when the city constructed the Grand Trunk Pathway, a portion of which leads east of the Sande Overpass and its greater length stretching west of the overpass.
The latter parallels CN’s rail tracks running west of the city.
“In all instances where the city has acquired land along the rail corridor from CN in the past for park or pathway construction CN has stipulated in the sale agreement that the purchaser (city) is required to install 1.8m chain-link fence,” read briefing notes provided by the city.
“We have done so and own and maintain the fence along our parcel boundary with the CN right of way.”