Mandatory standards from the Grade Crossing Regulations must be met by Nov. 28, 2021
Representatives from the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan (APAS), Alberta Federation of Agriculture and Keystone Agricultural Producers recently asked the federal government for an extension on railway crossing regulations.
The Grade Crossing Regulations were announced in 2014, with mandatory standards that need to be met by Nov. 28, 2021.
“We need to see an extension. We realized that this has been coming for quite some time, but we're finally getting some reach from the railroad companies. CP (Canadian Pacific Railway) has started talking to some of some of the people that use the crossings on their tracks and sounds like there's some pretty heavy financial, I'm going to call them penalties, coming towards producers that really is through no fault of their own,” said Todd Lewis, the president of APAS.
Early this year, CP sent letters to farmers across Western Canada stating producers may have to pay for any necessary upgrades.
Landowners and farmers have previous agreements with rail companies, and many don’t think these should change, said Lewis.
“These agreements were entered in good faith by producers and landowners, and I think the majority of these cases there's no reason to change the funding model that we've been using for decades,” he told Farms.com.
The funding model would see the railways paying for any upgrades.
“It's part of the business model for the railroads to maintain these crossings, they have lots of ways of generating revenue and they should be able to do so and still be able to afford these crossings,” Lewis said.
Representatives from the three producer groups are asking for the federal government to step in and reconsider having the railways ask farmers and landowners to pay for these upgrades and to extend the deadline of the regulations so everything can be sorted out.
“Specifically in CP's case, it seems like they're trying to push it a little bit now and farmers are pushing back and so I think we need a little bit more time to try and get this all figured out so we can get a satisfactory conclusion to this,” said Lewis.
Safety is still top of mind when it comes to the crossings and the hope is for producers to still have access to their land without additional costs.
“Safety is front of mind for everybody… but at the same time the safety shouldn't override the old contracts and agreements that have been in place for,” decades, said Lewis.
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