News / Calgary

Calgary council discussing construction near railroad tracks

City lacks regulations on easements, making it difficult for developers

City council is starting the discussion on how close to rail tracks developers can build.

Metro File

City council is starting the discussion on how close to rail tracks developers can build.

They’ll be working on the railroad at city council Friday.

Or at least, they’ll be talking about the railroad – and how the city should regulate construction close to the tracks.

The matter will be discussed in camera, but Coun. Evan Woolley said the discussion revolves around the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) guidelines for development near tracks.

“We need to give some direction on development around our CP lines,” he said.

Coun. Shane Keating said in the past, the FCM guidelines have been mistaken as actual regulations, which they are not.

He worries the FCM’s best practice put too much onus on landowners near the tracks.

“It does not in any way shape or form state that as a land owner – the railroads – they should be taking complete responsibility to make sure their trains don’t leave the property,” said Keating.

He notes that if railroads simply slowed trains down in developed areas, there would be fewer risks around the transportation of dangerous goods.

The FCM suggests residential building setbacks of 30 metres from a main line, or 15 metres from a branch line. Keating said there are no city regulations that he knows of regarding building in close proximity to railroads.  

Keating said the FCM didn't consult with Calgary before putting out the report, and that’s why council is looking at the matter now.

“I think what we’re doing is, we’re staring to have the discussion of what are the issues, what are the risks? Are these the actual guidelines that should be followed or are there a lot of other things brought into play before we say, ‘Yep, we’re doing it.’”

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