Spences Bridge organizers frustrated by snub from railways

Meeting looks at ways to prevent fires along tracks

Spences Bridge residents have put forward ideas to stop train-caused fires but are frustrated with lack of participation by the two national railways.

Residents met Tuesday with representatives of government, including Senator Nancy Greene Raine, local Indian bands, Transport Canada and officials from the Kamloops Fire Centre.

The meeting comes in the wake of what local organizer Dwayne Rourke called four train-caused fires this year, including one that burned an orchard.

Ideas for improvement include controlled burning along railways.

"Years ago, it was common and they never had fires in summer," Rourke said.

The meeting also came up with a suggestion of banning rail grinding during fire season.

But Rourke said frustration came Friday, when communication came from both CN Rail and CP Rail, within a half hour of each other, that officials would not attend. Rourke said CN initially indicated it would send four people to answer questions and take notes.

"There's obviously a collusion. They're very similar in tone."

A representative from CN Rail said it is always willing to meet with locals. But Warren Chandler, speaking for CN, said he's not aware of why no one attended Tuesday.

"It's not an unwillingness. It's a matter of logistics."

CP Rail spokesman Ed Greenberg said the corporation is willing to enter into discussions, but those must be through a municipality, in this case the Thompson-Nicola Regional District.

"We'd be pleased to participate in future municipally sponsored stakeholder meetings."

Rourke said local TNRD representative Steve Rice said he could not attend the meeting due to work considerations.

Community officials will follow up with the railways, Transport Canada and TNRD.

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