SAFETY INSPECTOR BLAMES CITY FOR FAILING TO CONSIDER PEDESTRIANS WHEN LICENCING NEW BUSINESSES IN AREA
KAMLOOPS - When pedestrian safety became an issue at a downtown railway crossing last year, city officials initially denied responsibility despite a railway safety inspector's suggestion the city's approval of new developments created the 'rogue pedestrian issue,' according to emails obtained by infoNEWS.ca.
Transportation Canada safety inspector Dennis Maskell realized there was cause for concern after inspecting the 3 Avenue crossing over a two-day period in July 2014. In his report, he documented shocking pedestrian behaviour - from people racing to beat oncoming trains, to a young woman crawling through a parked train and getting her high heel caught in a knuckle to other pedestrians having to get pulled away from oncoming trains.
Maskell sent the results of his report to administrators from the city and Canadian Pacific Railway requesting they cooperate to to curb the issue, but it appears city administrators felt the issue fell under railway jurisdiction.
Chief Administrative Officer David Trawin said in response, the city was looking at installing more signage in the area and was in talks with Canadian Pacific Railway.
“Although signs can alert pedestrians of hazards, the potential for inattentive and careless pedestrians crossing in between rail cars still remains,” Trawin said to Maskell in an October 2014 email. "Although out of our jurisdiction, the city has suggested to (the railway) that the use of surveillance cameras and signs could also be a deterrent to illegal crossing behaviour. This initiative is still being reviewed by Canadian Pacific."
Maskell disagreed the issue was only one-sided.
“There are two authorities at a public railway crossing; the road authority (the City of Kamloops) and the rail authority (Canadian Pacific). It behooves them both to ensure major planned infrastructure changes are reviewed when in close proximity to each other, to ensure no new safety concerns may occur,” he said in an email in December, 2014.
Trawin replied the city would work with the railway to mitigate the pedestrian safety issue.
However by July 2015, Maskell and officials with the railway both expressed in emails their frustrations at the amount of progress made. Maskell said people continued to crawl through parked trains and they would berate railway staff if confronted about crossing when they shouldn't. He attributed the increased foot traffic to the construction of the Sandman Signature Hotel along with the Shark Club and Moxie's restaurant.
"The city has worked with the (railway) to enhance road safety-rail safety at this railway crossing. There has been very little work respecting pedestrian management," Maskell said in an email to Trawin. "I hold the opinion the City of Kamloops either knew or ought to have known their licensing of additional businesses in this matter may require additional pedestrian management, respecting the railway crossing.”
In other emails surrounding traffic concerns, Ana Coady with Transport Canada told a city staffer "under federal rail safety legislation that is currently in place, Transport Canada does not have the authority to halt developments outside the rail right-of-way."
Emails between the city and the railway during the hotel and restaurant's proposal phase did outline safety concerns, but they were traffic-related and centred on the exits from the hotel parking lot. Pedestrian safety became an ongoing issue after the reckless behaviour was noticed and documented by rail staff and Maskell.
Negotiations between the city and the railway are still ongoing, with the most recent decision two weeks ago. After two weeks of 24-hour flagging service paid for by the city and the railway at 3 Avenue, Transport Canada rescinded the order when officials from Canadian Pacific agreed it would no longer stop trains over the crossing. The city agreed to put up additional signage, study the crossing and create a report.
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