Zero tolerance for rail trespassers 

CN Rail to enforce laws in Whistler, citing safety concerns

Using the train tracks as a shortcut or to access certain areas around Whistler could net you a fine from the CN Rail Police, according to constable Andy Thom.

"It seems the only way to convince people they can’t be there is enforcement under the trespass act," said Thom.

"(Enforcement) could happen at any time," he added. "People have to understand that we are certainly going to have zero tolerance to trespassing on the railway.

"I personally come through there on a regular basis, on the tracks and in areas where people are known to trespass, so I could come along at any time."

CN Rail, which acquired B.C. Rail in 2003, started this spring to fine trespassers in Pemberton $115 each, raising the ire of the Pemberton Valley Trails Association. The PVTA was negotiating with B.C. Rail to create a pedestrian access route on the train bridge over the Lillooet River, but those talks ended when CN took over. That area, which is home to a disc golf course and local hiking and biking trails, is where most Pemberton locals have been ticketed for trespassing.

Thom also said that people in Whistler have been fined in the past year, but did not have specific details.

According to Thom, the position of CN regarding trespassing is consistent with the position that was taken by B.C. Rail in the past. Thom says that people have been warned in the past about trespassing, but was concerned that people were not heeding the warnings.

"We’re actually glad there’s some interest in the issue (because of Pemberton). People may not always be happy, but my experience unfortunately is that when it comes to trying to educate people, until very recently… nobody seemed to be interested in reminding people they can’t be on the tracks," said Thom.

""We appreciate the interest, but hope that people understand that this is nothing new. It may be at the forefront right now because of the enforcement, but if we can educate people that’s great. Over the years people have not gotten the message from me and others telling them they can’t be (on the tracks)."

Although technically the tracks in B.C. still belong to public, CN Rail has a 999 year agreement to operate the railway under the terms of its deal with B.C. Rail. As the leaseholder, however, the tracks are considered private property under the federal Railway Safety Act and provincial Trespass Amendment Act.

Thom does not buy the argument that the tracks are ever the only option for accessing certain areas, but acknowledges that sometimes they appear to be the shortest and easiest route. That said, CN’s position is that trespassers and trains do not mix. "Ultimately what CN or any railway is trying to do is to prevent people getting killed," he said.

Readers also liked…

Interactive Map

Today's COVID-19 cases in Canada

Click each province to see the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, deaths, recovered patients, and tests administered...more.

Latest in Whistler

More by Andrew Mitchell

© 1994-2020 Pique Publishing Inc., Glacier Community Media

- Website powered by Foundation