Esquimalt residents sound alarm over noise from inter-city rail

Francine Khan

Francine Khan

If inter-city rail chugs through Francine Khan’s backyard, the train’s whistle will not only “blast her from bed,” but sound out throughout the morning and afternoon.

That, says the Esquimalt resident, will wreak havoc on her quality of life and lower her property value. Additional train trips, she warns, will also pose a hazard for pedestrians and motorists at crossings, such as the one at Maple Bank Road near her home, where there are no automatic barriers.

“This is ridiculous,” fumed Khan, whose backyard is six metres from the tracks and about 200 metres from the Maple Bank Road crossing. “It is a half-baked idea.

“There’s so many holes in this idea (but) no answers.”

The Island Corridor Foundation’s plan, though tentative at the moment, is to establish four additional Via runs between Victoria West and Langford each morning and afternoon.

Enhancing passenger service is critical, otherwise rail in Greater Victoria may die even if the rail line can be saved, according to Esquimalt’s mayor.

“One run a day is not significant enough,” said Barb Desjardins. “The rail, should it no longer exist, then there’s a significant change in terms of that land.”

The Douglas Treaty, for example, stipulates “the rail service must continue for the right-of-way to be continued,” Desjardins said.

Without rail, that land would revert back “to whoever it has taken the right-of-way away from,” the mayor said, adding those owners may include various municipalities and First Nations communities.

Khan’s neighbour Ruth Nelson says the impact the inter-city service would have on property owners must be considered. She believes it will prevent her from selling her house one day, as she has hoped.

“It will mean a total loss of my home,” she said. “I’m going to lose an arm and a leg wherever I go. I will fight it.”

Homeowners have to remember the railway was there first, said Graham Bruce, executive director of the Island Corridor Foundation, which owns the Esquimalt and Nanaimo rail line between Victoria and Courtenay.

“You live by a railroad and the railroad has been there 125 years,” he noted. “I don’t want that to sound like we’re (saying), ‘Oh, to heck with everybody. We’re not.'”

Safety remains paramount and noise will be minimized where possible, Bruce said. Mitigating those factors will be fleshed out as the business case progresses.

But Khan questions the value of the service for Esquimalt residents.

“Who in Esquimalt is going to ride this train?” she argued.

“Everyone who lives along the line will pay the price. Maybe some people may benefit from it, but we won’t.”

Just Posted

Shaelyn Sinnott of Oak Bay Volunteer Services delivers groceries for client Irene Kenny. The organization has kept up delivery of food and medication throughout all phases of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Courtesy Oak Bay Volunteer Services)
Oak Bay volunteers keep critical services running

Duo drove between Oak Bay and Jubilee three days a week, twice a day during pandemic

Two volunteers work to sieve a sample of sand and ocean water through a filter, capturing any potential microplastics. (Courtesy of Ocean Diagnostics)
Victoria startup making waves in microplastics research

New products from Ocean Diagnostics will make research faster, more affordable

Island Savings kick-starts the Equipped to Heal campaign with $120,000. (Courtesy Victoria Hospitals Foundation)
Latest Victoria Hospitals Foundation campaign targets $1M for mental health

Goal is to outfit new 19-bed unit at Eric Martin Pavilion

Willows Beach in Oak Bay. (Black Press Media file photo)
Seven days of sun set to shine on Greater Victoria

Special weather statement warns of higher than usual temperatures

Chef Trevor Randle leads a June 21 online cooking featuring recipes – beef zesty lettuce wraps, blueberry strudel and blueberry spritzer. (Courtesy We Heart Local BC)
Free online cooking course explores B.C. blueberries and beef

Chef Trevor Randle calls them the province’s most flavourful foods

Jesse Roper tackles weeds in his garden to kick off the 2021 season of What’s In My Garden Man? (YouTube/Whats In My Garden)
VIDEO: Metchosin singer-songwriter Jesse Roper invites gardeners into his plot

What’s In My Garden, Man? kicks off with the poop on compost

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

A Lotto 6/49 ticket purchased in Parksville for the June 19, 2021 draw is a $3M winner. (Submitted photo)
Winning Lotto 6/49 ticket worth $3M purchased on Vancouver Island

Lottery prize winners have 52 weeks to claim jackpot

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

Patrick O’Brien, a 75-year-old fisherman, went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search for lost fisherman near Victoria suspended, U.S. Coast Guard says

The 75-year-old man was reported missing Thursday evening

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

Most Read