THE CORPORATION OF THE CITY OF MARKHAM


EXCERPT CONTAINING ITEM #0004 OF THE DEVELOPMENT SERVICES COMMITTEE (September 22, 15)


PL150922 4. ANTI-WHISTLING ON STOUFFVILLE GO LINE AND ANTI-WHISTLING BY-LAWS & ASSOCIATED LIABILITY (5.12)

Presentation

Brian Lee, Deputy Director, Engineering, gave a presentation regarding Anti-Whistling on the Stouffville GO Line. The presentation included information regarding:

-      Train whistling at public grade crossings

-      Elimination of train whistling under the Railway Safety Act, 1985

-      Public grade crossings on the Stouffville Line in Markham

-      Future service plans for the Stouffville Line

-      Crossing Safety Assessment by AECOM

-      Issues to consider for anti-whistling

-      Cost to upgrade grade crossings

-      Experience from other Ontario municipalities

The Committee discussed the use of maze gates, pedestrian crossings and bridges, possibly closing Eureka Street at the crossing, grade separations, procedures and options for eliminating train whistles, time frames and costs, including the Havelock Line in the review, and which sector is responsible for safety and upgrades. The Committee requested a copy of the AECOM report, when finalized.

In summary, residents near railway tracks have ongoing concerns with train whistles, and the number of trains will be increasing. The consultant’s preliminary estimate for work required for the whistle elimination is $2.54 to $5.2 million for overall crossing upgrades within the urban boundary of Markham. This estimate needs to be confirmed, and cost sharing between Markham, York Region and Metrolinx needs to be finalized.

Barbra Anne Vaspori from Jardine Lloyd Thompson, the City’s insurance broker, gave a presentation on Anti-Whistling By-Laws and associated liability. Ms. Vaspori discussed the City’s insurance policy, liabilities, and claim expenses, and reviewed examples of recent serious incidents at rail crossings where the whistle restrictions had been in effect. If there is no anti-whistling by-law, the Rail Authority would be responsible for any claims. If there is an anti-whistling by-law in effect, the City would be required to sign an agreement with the Rail Authority for the City to assume certain liabilities, and it would impact the City’s Joint and Several Liability as well as the City’s future insurance premiums. Several recommendations were outlined from the perspective of the insurance company.

The City’s insurance agent has identified safety, risk and liability concerns, and City staff are concerned with risk, liability and capital cost implications. From a public safety and risk management perspective, it appears prudent for Markham and the Region to continue with current whistling measures at this time. City staff are waiting for the outcome of the negotiation with Metrolinx and the review of future mitigation options. Staff will review safety measures at the Green Lane and Langstaff Road crossings on the Richmond Hill line, and the cost of safety measures to conform to the Federal/Provincial regulations. Staff will report back to the Committee on these issues.

Next steps include finalizing the safety audit and capital costs for anti-whistling, negotiating with Metrolinx on partnership and financial contribution, and confirming funding and assumption of liabilities at regional road crossings with York Region. The draft 2016 capital budget includes a $300,000 allowance to undertake design of safety features to support whistle elimination if directed by Council. There is currently no funding designated for implementation of an anti-whistling program.

The Committee discussed risk management, insurance premiums, deductibles and indemnity clauses, pedestrian safety upgrades, meeting the requirements of the Railway to ensure safety measures are in place, and the current Council policy to endorse anti-whistling by-laws within the urban boundary (June, 2008). It was requested that the Main Street Markham and Mount Joy areas be included in the review.

Shanta Sundarason and Margaret Wilson gave a presentation in support of whistle cessation, advising that no incidents have occurred on local lines where anti-whistling by-laws are in place. They discussed the quality of life and health and financial impacts for 30,000 area residents. The implementation of all-day trains will add more horns and will increase the impacts. A petition was presented with 2,300 signatures in support.  

Philip Blachier spoke in support of whistle cessation and gave a presentation entitled “Rail Safety”, quoting statistics on rail safety. Mr. Blacher discussed some of the Transportation Safety Board findings on incidents with respect to restricted visibility and other factors; the Eureka Street crossing; and grade crossing improvements required by Metrolinx on the Stouffville GO line. It was noted that anti-whistling restrictions would not prevent the use of the horn when necessary, but it would stop the automatic horn.

Bryan Allen spoke in support of an anti-whistling by-law, and described the evolving audible warnings and barriers used in rail operations.

Michelle Sukul-Chan, spoke in support of an anti-whistling by-law, and described the impact of the train horns on the quality of life for adjacent residents, including noise pollution and sleep interruptions.

Masood Mohajer spoke in support of an anti-whistling by-law and discussed safety data. Mr. Mohajer requested that the City ensure that train horns are stopped prior to the implementation of all-day trains in 2017, and that additional funds be included in the 2016 budget for this purpose.

Peter Miasek, representing the Unionville Ratepayers Association, made a presentation in support of an anti-whistling by-law. Mr. Miasek discussed the train whistle impacts, liability issues, the history of this initiative, and ways to achieve a solution in a timely manner. Mr. Miasek requested Council increase the budget for this project and work on construction and public communication plans.

Mira Jug spoke in support of an anti-whistling by-law and spoke of the increased impacts as the all-day service starts. Ms. Jug urged the City to move forward in a timely manner.

Lene Ergir spoke in support of an anti-whistling by-law, and noted the impacts to property values as well as to the quality of life.

Doug Denby spoke in support of the anti-whistling by-law, focusing on the three residential crossings on the rail line, and the missed opportunity with the recent Unionville revitalization.

 

The Committee acknowledged the lengthy process involved and the commended the commitment of the residents, staff, and Council Members to resolve this issue.

Moved by: Mayor Frank Scarpitti

Seconded by: Regional Councillor Jim Jones

1)         That the written submission and petition with 2,300 signatures from Shanta Sundarason and Margaret Wilson regarding anti-whistling be received; and.

2)         That the deputations by Shanta Sundarason and Margaret Wilson, Philip Blachier, Bryan Allen, Michelle Sukul-Chan, Masood Mohajer, Peter Miasek representing the Unionville Ratepayers Association, Mira Jug, Lene Ergir, and Doug Denby regarding anti-whistling be received; and,

3)         That the September 22, 2015 presentations from staff and Jardine Lloyd Thompson be received; and,

4)         That staff finalize the safety audit, cost estimates, cost assessment and Regional Express Rail (RER) requirements for the road/rail crossings in consultation with the Regional Municipality of York and Metrolinx; and,

5)         That staff undertake a safety audit on the Green Lane and Langstaff Road crossings on the CN Bala Subdivision (Richmond Hill Line) and report back to Council as to required safety improvements and cost to continue anti-whistling; and,

6) *      That the City of Markham reaffirms its commitment to safety measures for at-grade rail crossings in collaboration with Metrolinx and the Regional Municipality of York to achieve whistle cessation at those crossings and to improve the quality of life for residents adjacent to those crossings; and,

7)         That staff be directed to hire a rail safety expert to determine if safety measures beyond the Grade Crossing Regulations are required, and provide a report by January, 2016; and,

8)         That the Budget Sub-committee be requested to include an additional $500,000 in the Capital Budget to begin a grade crossing safety program; and,

9)         That the Regional Municipality of York be requested to confirm 100% funding and liability for grade rail safety on regional road crossings; and,

10)       That the Mayor’s Office arrange a meeting with Metrolinx to confirm the timing of implementation for safety measures in the RER initiative; and,

11)       That staff confirm with Metrolinx their approved funding to implement such measures; and,

12)       That staff collaborate with Metrolinx to advance, where feasible, the implementation of the safety measures in the City of Markham; and,

13)*     That the City of Markham strongly request Metrolinx to implement the safety measures that achieve whistle cessation prior to the implementation of all day train service; and,

14)*     That staff provide an update to Development Services Committee by November 30, 2015 on progress related to all of the issues; and

15)       That the City of Markham, in conjunction with the Anti-Whistling Working Group, hold public information meetings to keep the public apprised of the progress; and,

16)*     That staff develop a work plan and implementation plan for the grade crossing safety program and report back to Council on that plan no later than January 30, 2016; and,

17)       Thatstaff report back on the above issues for Council’s direction; and further,

18)       That staff be authorized and directed to do all things necessary to give effect to this resolution.

CARRIED

*Amended by Council on September 28, 2015, as follows:

     Add the following words to the end of the Clause 6:

          ...to achieve whistle cessation at those crossings and to improve the quality of life for residents adjacent to those crossings;

Add the following paragraphs as Clauses 13 and 14:

13)     That the City of Markham strongly request Metrolinx to implement the safety measures that achieve whistle cessation prior to the implementation of all day train service; and,

14)       That staff provide an update to Development Services Committee by November 30, 2015 on progress related to all of the issues; and

     Add the following words to the end of the Clause 16:

          ...and report back to Council on that plan no later than January 30, 2016;

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