Magog looks to expand ban on sleep-shattering train whistles to entire city

Currently, the ban on train whistles is only in effect in Magog's downtown sector.   (Radio-Canada - image credit)
Currently, the ban on train whistles is only in effect in Magog's downtown sector. (Radio-Canada - image credit)

The city of Magog is looking into the possibility of expanding a ban on train whistles to include the entire city.

Following myriad complaints from residents tired of being awakened by horn blasts during the night, the city, located in Quebec's Eastern Townships, began conducting a study on the noise in 2019.

It was quickly abandoned, but in 2021, residents petitioned to have the study revived and officials took another look at the issue.

"We were surprised to see that there were some very interesting subsidies, mainly from the federal government, that were available and could cover up to 75 per cent of the costs," said Magog Mayor Nathalie Pelletier.

She says banning the whistles would mean other measures would need to be put in place to protect people around the tracks, including putting up fences.

"There is no decision yet, but what the council decided to do is to push the analysis to see how much it would cost to stop the train whistle on the entire territory of the city — so entering Magog to the exit near Sherbrooke."

Titouan Bussiere/Radio-Canada
Titouan Bussiere/Radio-Canada

Currently, the ban on train whistles is only in place in downtown Magog, but Pelletier says that needs to change.

''We're going to do it for everyone or we're not going to do it for anyone," she said. "There are not two categories of citizens in Magog."

The mayor says the city will come to a final decision over the regulation by the end of the year.

A political and technical will, says pleased resident

Pierre Perras, founder of the coalition for a better quality of life in Magog, a citzens' group that's been fighting against the overnight train noise since 2021, says he's satisfied with the state of the situation.

"We feel that there is a political will and also a technical will," he said. He said discussions concerning the budget are the next step.

"We know it will cost $2 million. That's a little more than the $1.4 million that it originally cost, [which] is normal because the expenses have gone up," he said.

Sherbrooke residents are hoping to follow Magog's lead. Residents formed a committee at the end of last year to protest train whistles, but the project is still in its early stages.

Christine Bureau/Radio-Canada
Christine Bureau/Radio-Canada

The committee asked Perras for help in hopes of benefiting from his experience over the last two years in Magog. He will meet with the committee in the coming weeks.

According to Perras, the city of Magog could become "a model" for the region.

"We are still behind in the Eastern Townships compared to what has been done elsewhere," he said. "We will become more attractive."