CN might close rail crossing at Watson Road

Crozier residents seeking access to their property on Watson Road north of Station Road may have to walk in if the Canadian National Railway goes ahead with a plan to close and fence off the level crossing there.
CN Public Works officer Randy Domstad told Alberton council at its regular monthly meeting last Wednesday night that there have been some safety concerns regarding sight lines down the track.
“There are [safety] issues at Watson Road and Station Road that have to be addressed,” said Domstad, noting there are no lights or crossing arms at that location.
“I am prepared to close and barricade the road,” he added.
The biggest concern, Domstad noted, was the presence of trees on the road allowance that make it difficult to see an approaching train until a vehicle is practically on the tracks.
Furthermore, the road also is popular with snowmobilers in the winter, which is of special concern.
“Snowmobilers bother me more than vehicles at a crossing,” Domstad remarked. “At night, when there’s a snowmobile on a crossing and a train is coming, somebody is going to die every time.”
Domstad noted since the road in question is a public thoroughfare, the township—not CN—is responsible for ensuring the safety of its users.
Coun. Mike Ford asked Domstad for some time for the township to look into the matter and come up with some proposals. One possibility, he said, was to put in lights at the crossing.
When asked how much that would cost, Domstad said it would be a minimum of $150,000 and likely as much as $450,000.
“It’s one of those things we’ll definitely have to investigate,” remarked Coun. Ford.
Also at last Wednesday’s meeting, Darlene Nyberg submitted a proposal to council to establish an Ontario Early Years Outreach Program in Alberton, similar to the one recently opened in Fort Frances.
Nyberg said the funding already is in place but there are no provisions for renting space, so she asked council if it would agree to make space available for that purpose.
Coun. Barb Cournoyer suggested using the basement of the municipal office. “It’s a perfect fit,” she remarked.
Coun. Ford also endorsed the idea, noting the program could help raise the profile of the community.
“I think it’s one of those things that helps not identify us with Fort Frances,” he said.
Lorne Caul of the roads department then gave a report to council regarding the state of roads in Alberton. He said most of the roads, except for portions of Frog Creek Road, were in good shape.
However, beaver activities continue to be an issue.
“It’s useless to tear these dams apart without getting rid of the beavers first,” Caul said.
In other business, Alberton council:
•authorized the installation of a transfer switch at the fire hall;
•supported a resolution from the Northwestern Health Unit regarding tobacco control initiatives in the districts of Kenora, Rainy River, and Thunder Bay;
•supported a request from CUPE/SCFP to proclaim Oct. 25, 2005 as Child Care Worker and Early Childhood Appreciation Day in the Township of Alberton;
•passed a resolution authorizing the clerk’s attendance at the CAO forum to be held Oct. 19 in Thunder Bay and to cover all the expenses involved; and
•supported a resolution from the Town of Atikokan opposing the conversion of its coal-fired generator to natural gas on the grounds it would increase the cost of natural gas.
The next regular meeting of Alberton council is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 14 at 7 p.m. at the municipal office.