• Carmen Marie Fabio

Trains and canines up for discussion in Beaconsfield


PHOTO BY CARMEN MARIE FABIO

The City of Beaconsfield has said it will not rush to ban pit bulls from its territory but will wait for recommendations from the provincial level. The town announced it plans to build a dog park adjacent to Angell Woods and will begin enforcing its leash by-laws.

While a decision by Beaconsfield council to put out a call for tender to construct a football-field sized dog park near Angell Woods was welcomed by some, others questioned the need for such a facility when the myriad trails of the woods themselves have been the go-to destination of a number of dog owners for years.

“Rather than act impulsively in implementing new regulations on dangerous dogs, we will wait for recommendations from the working group put in place by the provincial government and the UMQ (Union des municipalités du Québec),” Mayor Georges Bourelle read from a prepared statement at the start of the June 20 council meeting. In light of the recent pit bull attacks in Montreal that killed a 55-year-old woman and injured two others, council said it’s responding to calls received in recent weeks complaining about dogs running unleashed near the woods.

“I’ve been going there (Angell Woods) for 20 years and have never been attacked – or seen anyone attacked – by a dog,” said a Brookside Avenue resident in response to the proposed $100,000 project. “There are dozens of people who go there every day. If you build a dog park, it’s going to cost a lot of money.”

Mayor Bourelle clarified that Luger Triangle, the land being considered for the dog park lying adjacent to John Henry Menzies Street, was not part of Angell Woods and that the town has a regulation that dogs must be kept on a leash in public places.

“We’ve been lax… we’ve been tolerant and probably, in retrospect, should not have,” he said. The mayor confirmed that dogs have been running loose in Luger Triangle for a long time but that council also needed to respect the rights of residents who are afraid of dogs.

“There are two sides to every story and the compromise is for us to install a dog park,” said Bourelle. “We are not reinventing any wheels. There are many dog parks in many cities all over. We’re simply doing what we perhaps should have done a long time ago.” The proposed park will have two separate sections for smaller dogs and larger breeds.

The current fine for having a dog unleashed in the town is $100 plus $49 in associated court costs. A second offense is $200 with $71 in costs, and a third will result in a court summons.

YLJ FILE PHOTO/CARMEN MARIE FABIO

Canadian Pacific recently wrote to the City of Beaconsfield to say train speed through the town would be increasing by 20 per cent, a move the mayor cites as dangerous and socially irresponsible.

Train speed

A number of residents took issue with CP Rail’s May 31 decision to raise its train speed by 20 per cent in urban zones, from 50 to 60 miles per hour (mph) (approximately 80 to 100 km/hr) along the Vaudreuil Subdivison that stretches from Montreal West to the Dorion Stations.

“Based on a potential impact, increasing the speed from 45 to 65 mph will result in the doubling of kinetic energy of any of the trains passing through,” said resident Al Gardner of the estimated 30 trains that pass through the city every day. “It will also have a significant increase in the sound levels.” Gardner appealed to council to protest the decision at the federal level.

Though it holds no legal weight, council tabled a resolution opposing CP’s decision and it passed with a majority vote. District 4 Councillor Pierre Demers was the sole vote against the resolution.

“Those that come here regularly know that I don’t vote for ‘feel good’ resolutions, I prefer to base my votes on facts.” Demers said he’d made enquiries with CP and was told the speed increase will properly synchronize the safety gates and bells of a system upgrade at the level crossings. Demers also pointed out Via passenger trains currently go faster than the newly proposed CP speeds.

“As far as the noise level, there was documentation given to council on the diesel locomotive noise at 60 mph and it’s basically three decibels,” said Demers. “Such and increase is barely perceptible to the human ear. A speed increase sounds ominous but in reality, the facts don’t support us voting against this.”

Following the meeting, the City of Beaconsfield released a communiqué that stated, in part, “Railway companies need to look beyond their profit margins and show respect for the communities affected by their activities. By increasing the speed of their trains by 20 per cent, both the risk of accidents and their likely severity are increased, as are the noise levels our residents are exposed to."

Bourelle also noted that Canadian National (CN) reduced its overall train speed last year following a series of railway disasters.

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