Eckville town councillors troubled by pile of rail ties

A massive pile of railway ties that is an eyesore — and an occasional nose sore — in Eckville is expected to be removed by spring.

Ryan Capnerhurst drops off recycling at Eckville’s Main Street depot near stacks of discarded CN Rail railroad ties Tuesday.

Ryan Capnerhurst drops off recycling at Eckville’s Main Street depot near stacks of discarded CN Rail railroad ties Tuesday.

A massive pile of railway ties that is an eyesore — and an occasional nose sore — in Eckville is expected to be removed by spring.

Town councillors were peeved at how long it was taking Canadian National Railway Co. to move the stockpile of treated rail ties that had been piled up near the end of the town’s main drag since July.

The town was quick to raise concerns about the makeshift storage dump and was told by a CN official that it was hoped that the ties could be removed by the end of 2010, but that it might take until the following year for the entire load to be carted off.

Disgruntled councillors raised the issue again at a council meeting earlier this month. A motion was passed to send a letter to CN expressing the community’s concerns and urging the company to move the ties.

Town administrator Therese Kleeberger said on Tuesday that the company phoned her a few days later to tell her the ties would be removed soon.

“They’re going to get them removed hopefully this winter. They’re making it a priority to get the ties out of town by the spring.”

Kleeberger said the stockpile was considerable.

“There’s probably 1,000 ties or better,” she said, estimating the pile stands five to seven metres high.

Councillor Scott Kinley was among those annoyed it was taking so long to get the rid of the tie dump.

“It’s a big pile. It’s right by our skateboard park,” he said in an interview before he got word of the updated removal schedule.

“These things stink in the summer when the heat hits them.”

Kinley also feared the railway ties could prove a tempting climbing challenge for youngsters using the nearby park.

Residents have complained to him about the eyesore near the town’s main street and the mayor had taken calls from community members concerned the pungent wafts of preservative chemicals could be a health hazard for those with respiratory problems.

The town even had to cancel a planned fireworks show to kick off its annual tree lighting ceremony because the tie pile fell within the safety zone. If sparks or spent fireworks landed in the ties, they could smoulder for days before being whipped up into flames by the wind, he said. As it turned out, the fireworks could not have gone ahead this year because of a fire ban brought on by dry conditions, but the decision to cancel had been made a month earlier.

Kinley doesn’t understand why CN couldn’t find somewhere else to store the ties other than land they own in the middle of a community.

“CN has just hundreds and hundreds of places to put these things.

“It’s just not a good thing to do.”

The Advocate contacted CN on Tuesday but had not yet received a response.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

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