Some Mirror residents are upset about diesel fumes and noise from trains idling nearby.
About 30 residents of the hamlet some 42 km east of Lacombe came out to a town hall meeting last week to express concerns about excessive noise and exhaust fumes emanating from the Canadian National rail yard on the west side of Mirror.
Some of those who live adjacent to the yard are livid that the train engines are left idling so close to their homes.
“We are inhaling these exhaust fumes like you cannot imagine,” said Judith George, a Mirror resident whose mother lives across from the recently installed CN bunk house where the engines stop and idle mostly for crew changes. “You can taste the fumes.”
The rail traffic has increased considerably in the last year, she said. Her mother has gotten sick from the diesel smoke, as have other residents, said George.
“You feel like you’re dragging a piano behind you . . . no energy, wiped out, throat burning, chest burning, eyes burning,” said George.
Wetaskiwin-Ponoka MP Blaine Calkins called the meeting. He said the people of Mirror understand the importance of the business, but that they also deserve to be able to get a good night’s sleep.
He toured the tracks after the meeting and said there are a lot of places where the trains could be kept idling without being a bother.
“But they’ve located a bunk house right there in close proximity to the houses and I have a feeling they’re parking the trains there as a matter of convenience, at the same time inconveniencing the members of the town,” said Calkins, who has contacted the minister of Transport about the complaints.
Another politician who has taken up the cause is Lacombe-Ponoka MLA Raymond Prins. He says he hopes they can resolve the issue without needing to resort to installing an air quality monitoring station care of Parkland Airshed Management Zone.
An air quality monitoring station has been requested. Any results will be provided to Alberta Environment, which could take action if readings were too high.
CN says that as a matter of policy and mechanics, the engines need to be kept idling any time the temperature is in danger of dipping below 5C.
The company has already taken measures to allay the Mirror residents’ concerns, according to spokeswoman Kelli Svendsen, including changing operations so engines are parked on the shop track, the furthest track away from the homes. They have reminded crews of the change and are monitoring where the engines are stopped, she said.
“They live in very close proximity to a rail yard, so even if you move them over to the shop track, all of the homes are very close by. . . . We’ve moved them the furthest away that we can,” said Svendsen.