What's New

Agreement By Railways, Municipal Governments Timely Response to Urbanization and Environmental Trends

(May 2003)

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) and the Railway Association of Canada (RAC) have signed a memorandum of understanding to build common approaches to the prevention and resolution of issues that arise when people live and work in close proximity to railway operations.

The agreement is particularly timely, given Canada's increasingly urbanized character, growing concern over greenhouse gas emissions, and increased reliance upon rail for moving freight and passengers.

"Joint exploration of best practices for railway operations and land use planning is necessary. Railways and communities both contribute to the economic well being of the country and both are growing. Where these two forces of economic growth intersect, we have to deal with that convergence," said FCM President, Calgary Alderman, John Schmal.

"Municipal governments can facilitate the education of citizens about the importance of rail to our economy and our quality of life, while the rail industry itself needs to be more sensitive to community and residential realities in our increasingly urbanized country," he said.

"The success of our efforts will depend, in large measure, upon building mutual understanding of each other's current structures and processes," said Bill Rowat, President and CEO of the RAC, which represents 60 freight and passenger railways that operate in Canada. "With that understanding, municipal governments and railways will be better able to avoid future disputes and resolve existing issues without escalation to costly legal procedures."

"The work we are beginning will grow in importance as Canada, one of the most trade-dependant countries in the world, increasingly relies on rail corridors to carry freight to and from our trading partners," said Mr. Rowat.

The MOU will be implemented by a joint Steering Committee with equal representation of members from both associations. The initial mandate is to develop commonly understood proximity guidelines, to improve awareness among all stakeholders of the need for effective planning and management, and to develop a dispute resolution protocol to guide concerned parties when issues emerge.

The Canadian Association of Municipal Administrators will play a consultative role in the implementation of the MOU. Representation is also expected from other sectors, such as residential and commercial development, urban and transportation planning, as well as the academic sector.

Contact Information:

Massimo Bergamini
Federation of Canadian Municipalities
613-241-5221 ext. 247

Roger Cameron
Railway Association of Canada