Guelph has always been a very ‘active’ town – if you plan to do something, you will expect significant attention to detail from residents. Environmentalism also runs high, and it’s part of what makes Guelph unique.
When the Guelph Junction Railway announced weed spraying work which was to be done the week of May 23′rd, it surely hit the papers the next week with a roar. The simple fact is, the only reason it roared was the high profile nature of the advertisement – and the fact it was advertised – weed spraying has occurred on railways for almost as long as there have been herbicides and it’s now coded in law as a requirement. As a former member of the committee that worked on GJR’s weed spraying policy, this is a sensitive topic that many will find controversial, but just be thankful that GJR and Council are as attentive to the interests of local residents – Federally Regulated railways ARE NOT and WOULD NOT give you this level of attention. They just load their weed spraying train and let it go. For example, CP just sprayed their entire mainline and branchline system throughout Ontario over the last two weeks. Did you know about it? Were you notified? Nope… and yes, the same chemicals that you hate to hear, “roundup” “kamex”, etc are used – these are federally regulated - you can’t use anything else without working very closely with government and little else actually works effectively. CN and CP both research and try alternatives… and none of it has taken off because none of it has worked yet. GJR has also done signifcant research with local groups (University of Guelph) to find alternatives and we were part of that process – it didn’t work and we had to pay people to manually, by hand, control vegetation as a result.
And the poor lady who takes ‘great care’ to run a pesticide free garden beside a railway for the last 40 years….. sorry to say, but 40 years ago railways used copious amounts of herbicides… it’s what made the right of way so clear and clean – akin to what Hydro used on their rights of way also. (Do your homework on this one folks!)
Furthermore, the bottom line is if you don’t control vegetation – the roadbed deteriorates faster, leads to potentially unsafe conditions (Stopping a train on a weedy rail line is much more difficult) makes it difficult for crew or railway employees to walk on railway tracks (when necessary), makes it much more difficult to see bad rail or tie conditions, and also controls the risk of BRUSH FIRE. Oh crud, someone said the Fire word. The newspapers didn’t !
You see, rail on rail contact is not without ‘sparks’ and small bits of dry brush quickly become tinder… you don’t want a fire beside your home, do you? If you don’t control the vegetation, that’s exactly what you’ll get.
Witness what happened in Milton this past April, these photos say it all folks:
GJR has a sound plan to manage vegetation and takes great care in meeting the unique needs of our residents. Be thankful that they do – because on other, larger railway lines, they just spray roundup and don’t take the care to notify you either other than a public notice on their website which you have to go looking for…..