June 9, 2016
The Honourable Marc Garneau
Minister of Transport
House of Commons
Dear Minister Garneau,
As you are no doubt aware, public safety at Canadian railway crossings is of paramount concern for rural Canadians who work and live in the communities alongside railways. We, as the National Farmers Union, call upon this government to review and update rail regulations to restore a higher level of manicured property along rail crossings. At our most recent convention, the following resolution was passed:
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the NFU petition the Federal Minister of Transport to mandate that all brush on railway property affecting line of sight at all public crossings, protected or not, be cleared to a minimum of 750 metres in each direction and that this required standard be maintained.
At one time, mechanical maintenance of wild brush was commonplace. However, with modern protective signals (where these exist) each time rural Canadians cross the tracks they bet their lives that the technology will not fail. By simply mandating the maintenance standard we recommend, not only will unguarded crossings be improved, but adequate brush clearing will also improve the extra protective measure at guarded crossings.
In addition to rail safety, many communities across Canada also favour the establishment of additional pollinator habitat. The National Farmers Union would be in favour of the railways working with local conservation authorities to identify and suggest appropriate plants (non-noxious weed species) that would improve safety elements while encouraging public environmental stewardship by an industry that affects all Canadians.
We urge you to personally drive through some of the rural crossings located off the beaten path where you will be able to see why this issue is a concern for residents.
Thank you for your attention in this important matter. We are counting on your actions to prevent the needless loss of rural lives!
National Farmers Union Region 3 (Ontario) Board Member
CC Hon. Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
Kelly Block, Conservative Transport critic
Hon. Erin O’Toole, Conservative Public Safety critic
Linda Duncan, NDP Transport critic
Randall Garrison, NDP Public Safety critic