What is Proximity?

What is Proximity?

Most of Canada’s municipalities have evolved around railway tracks and the services they deliver to the community. While the two have traditionally shared common goals, their proximity can sometimes lead to issues between people and trains.

Canadians are living and working around trains and tracks. They are also opting to leave their car at home in favour of commuting by train. Commuter rail carries about 68 million passengers per year and that number is on the rise. But as Canada becomes more urbanized and cities try to minimize urban sprawl, many new residential developments are being built on sites in proximity to rail facilities, creating challenges for communities and railways to co-exist. This is happening in both urban and rural communities.

Both parties' goals are the same. Railways and communities want to reduce pollution, congestion and costs while prioritizing safety and convenience.

But proximity remains a challenge as freight and passenger services evolve to meet consumer, economic and transportation needs. Rail operations are working tirelessly to keep up with growing demand, but increased activity leads to issues such as noise, vibration and crossing congestion.

Together, the RAC and FCM are working to communicate what’s being done by railways and communities to arrive at proximity solutions. The FCM-RAC Proximity Initiative has developed Guidelines for New Development in Proximity to Railway Operations (May 2013), intended for use by municipalities and their staff, provincial governments, railways, developers and property owners when new developments in proximity to rail operations are proposed. The guiding philosophy of this document is that, by building better today, we can avoid conflicts in the future.

Fast Facts

  • The objective of the proximity issues website is to help the Canadian public and officials with railways, industry and government of all levels become more aware of issues that may arise when railways and municipalities are in close proximity to each other. The information presented on this site is intended to provide direction on successful resolution of such issues
  • Railways are part of the community fabric of Canada and link municipalities together by serving their various needs. Railways are responsible for all costs related to improving and maintaining their infrastructure ( with the exception of grade crossings) and pay taxes on all land they own
  • Railways and municipalities share common goals and are most successful when working in tandem to understand each other's needs
  • The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) and the Railway Association of Canada (RAC) collaborate through an MOU and recognize the importance of an information base on proximity issues being publicly available through an up-to-date website that provides reference information, contacts and links