OFA provides comments to Transport Canada’s proposal to modify the grade crossing regulations. OFA appreciates the opportunity to provide comments on the proposed tiered, risk-based approach to changing the grade crossing regulations which otherwise require any private owner of an existing crossing to comply with the requirements of the regulations. OFA recognizes the dangers of unsafe private crossings that must be upgraded to keep farm families, farm workers, and the farmers themselves safe. OFA fully recognizes the need for these proposed regulatory changes, with about 14,000 public and 9,000 private grade crossings along more than 40,000 kilometers of federally regulated railway tracks in Canada. Closing or restricting the use of crossing could result in a farmer not having any way to access some of their farmland which would be unacceptable. OFA supports changing the scope of the regulations so that defined low-risk crossings don’t need to meet all requirements. Completing this work is a huge undertaking and achieving this by November 28, 2021 is not practical. Therefore, OFA recommends extending the deadline using a risk-based approach for all grade crossings by one year for high-risk grade crossings and three years for all other crossings.
OFA strongly recommends that representation from the agricultural community be a participant in developing a measurable framework for identifying the risk level of a crossing. OFA recommends Transport Canada ensure that all private crossings are inspected, and that each private landowner and the respective railway company are provided with an inspection report detailing required upgrades specific to each private crossing. Further, OFA recommends Transport Canada postpone the Grade Crossing Regulations’ implementation date for private crossings until such time that private landowners have had at least twenty-four months from the date they receive an inspection report.