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Fans of Calvin and Hobbes will remember that Calvin’s favourite bedtime story was ‘Hamster Huey and the Gooey Kablooie’. Well it seems we’ve seen a big, and by all reports, a ‘gooey’ kablooie.

I have been asked by several individuals why I haven’t been ‘commenting’ on the recent series of rail misadventures.There have been so many ‘accidents’ that is seems surreal. It’s sort of like the weather. Why spend too much time on what you can’t change. Changes start with a desire to change. And from what I have seen the Town of Parry Sound isn’t ready to change. The reasons in support of the status quo range from apathy, an honest romantic notion of trains chugging across Canada opening up a vast wilderness, to a sense that trains drive Canadian economy.  A ‘What’s good for General Bullmoose is good for the USA” way of thinking. Mostly though it’s apathy. People reason its not that bad and they don’t think they can do anything about it. Much like the vague sense people have regarding weather and climate change.

Well Lac-Mégantic has provided us with a real-life definition of ‘that bad’. A train with more than seventy cars of crude oil exploded in town, killing residents, burning down many buildings and polluting the local river. Check in with www.cbc.ca for updates.

This is no tornado, earthquake or some other ‘Act of God’. This is an ‘Act of Commerce’.

Rail cars carrying bulk crude oil roll through Parry Sound day and night. Heading south they carry crude oil. Heading north I suspect they are empty, traveling west to be refilled.

Considering just the southbound track in Parry Sound, the rail cars pass through four street crossings (two gated), go over four bridges/trestles, and in the process cross the Seguin River. Pollute the river and you pollute Georgian Bay, killing wildlife and the local economy. The potential for misadventure is remarkably high. And as we have seen in Lac-Mégantic it’s more than a ‘theoretical’ risk.

As a member of Parry Sound’s Rail Safety Committee I’ve been told that we have a plan in place to handle a rail emergency. Does it include rebuilding half the town? Is it perhaps worth the time and effort to develop in parallel a plan that eliminates the possibility of a Lac-Mégantic type disaster?

But, until the town, including residents, council and staff decides to get off of its apathetic ass nothing will happen.

Rolling, Rolling, Rolling – Keep Them Tankers Rolling.

ParrySights-2055Ahh – the romance of the rails.