Homeless camps near Kamloops railways creating headaches | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Homeless camps near Kamloops railways creating headaches

Jim Noakes spotted remnants of what appears to be a homeless encampment near a CN railway in Kamloops. He worries that if left unchecked, someone might soon be hit by a passing train.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Jim Noakes

Downtown isn't the only area of Kamloops where residents are rudely awakened by train horns these days.

Jim Noakes has lived in Westmount, north of the CN railway, since the 1980s, and he can't remember a time when he's heard so many train horns through the area.

"It's never been like this. You'd hear the trains go by but you'd never hear trains sounding, or at least it was very seldom," he said. "Certainly since winter time, it's been happening more and more."

The tracks are roughly 100 metres from his house, and sometimes he'll hear the horns four to five times a night.

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He believes an increase in encampments along the railway is prompting CN conductors to sound their horns more often.

"Why does it keep on going on without the real issue being addressed?" Noakes said. "Sooner or later someone's going to be be injured or killed."

It's not clear whether railway police have responded to more encampments on CN and CP property, but a CN spokesperson said conductors will sound their horns if they see vehicles, wildlife or people near the track.

Conductors will also sound their horns if they are near track crossings, like the south shore. The stretch of CN track near Westmount, which runs along Halston Drive and under 8 Street, has no nearby crossings.

CN did not say whether its police officers are responding to more encampments on CN property, but Tammy Blundell of the City of Kamloops said Community Service Officers are responding to many more encampments this year.

In 2021, Community Service Officers (formerly bylaw officers) responded to 973 encampment files, she said.

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As of Sept. 16, they've responded to 1,453 in 2022, which is from a combination of "proactive" work and complaints from the public.

While she also couldn't say if there's an increase in encampments near railway property, or whether that's the reason for a rise in horns disturbing the neighbourhood, she did say the City and rail companies cooperate to address safety concerns near the tracks.

"All three agencies know it's a safety concern. The last thing you want to hear is that somebody was hit," she said.

She added that homeless encampments are found all over the city, including near riverbanks and other areas like Guerin Creek. However, it's more challenging to respond to reports on railway property.

"We aren't allowed on their property without authority," she said. "We can't cross the tracks on our own volition."

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She doesn't doubt that there are encampments under the 8 Street overpass.

"We get (those reports) daily. There's encampments close to CN and CP rails daily. This isn't something that comes once a month — it's all the time," she said.

Noakes said he understands people need a place to stay, but the added noise, and safety concern, leaves him wishing for more enforcement of encampments on railway property.

"If there's tents and things, they probably shouldn't be there, but I understand people have to stay somewhere," Noakes said. "But you don't have a chance against the train, even if it's not moving fast."

To contact a reporter for this story, email Levi Landry or call 250-819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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