Municipalities & Railways Working Together

The RAC is the Railway Association of Canada; the FCM is the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. What would bring together these two diverse organizations, that represent very different entities? Common interests.

As Canada’s population grows, new residential and commercial developments are being built in communities across the country. Older buildings, such as factories and warehouses in urban centres, are being re-developed into new residential units.

Often, new developments are being built along existing rail lines. And, many older commercial buildings being turned into high-end condos and apartments are located right alongside active rail lines that operate on a 24-hour-per-day, seven-days-per-week basis in order to meet the needs of commuter, passenger and freight rail customers.

Railways and municipalities know that putting residences and some workplaces near active rail lines will generate concerns – about safety, noise, vibration, emissions, etc. – from affected citizens. These concerns are not easily dealt with, after the fact, and often leave all parties dissatisfied.

The FCM and RAC, representing municipalities and railways, came together and agreed it made more sense to try to avoid conflict, before the fact.

That led to the creation of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between FCM and RAC in 2002, which led to the creation of Proximity Guidelines that promote proper planning and improved communications between communities and railways. That work is ongoing, and the MOU has been updated in 2009 and again in 2016.

The intent remains: convince communities to use the jointly-developed Proximity Guidelines in their municipal zoning plans in order to reduce potential safety and livability issues between citizens and railway operations.