A little over a week ago, the federal government opened its purse to hand out over $916,000 for 42 safety improvements to railway crossings around British Columbia.
Ottawa's minister of transport, Lawrence Cannon, was clear in his reasoning for these grants:
"Whether in the city or in rural areas, where rail tracks and roads meet, there is a potential for accidents."
Yes, minister, it sounds like you have a grip on that aspect of your portfolio.
To this end, there was a great push to switch the railway crossing signal lights to environmentally friendly LED models in 11 towns like Smithers, Chilliwack and Telkwa. They cost of $3,032 for each of the 18 crossings. Can't LED lights - even railway crossing LEDs - come out at a little less costly than that?
The princely sum of $286,400 went to one crossing in Terrace, for a "constant warning time device and pre-emption". Yale got $133,120 for "gates and motion sensing device". A crossing at Radium Hot Springs is to get new lights (doesn't say what kind) at a cost of $28,960.
No doubt these upgrades are needed. No doubt these prices are bargains. Certainly, they come out as vastly cheaper than, say, promoting Canada through Quebecois advertising firms.
But when it came to Squamish, we may as well have been whistling in the wind. We didn't get a penny.
At least twice in the last two weeks, the crossing barriers on Cleveland Avenue have been stuck in the down position long after the danger has passed, leading to long tailbacks.
And there has long been a concern about the safety of crossings without barriers near schools.
At the very least, those deciding on a new route to Downtown Squamish should seriously consider one that allows drivers and pedestrians to avoid trains altogether. The town is built all along tracks and rail traffic has increased. Perhaps the fact that Squamish was not on that list should also be seen as an issue.