Group surprised by railway's reaction to selfie contest
SYDNEY - Genesee & Wyoming forbids people from taking pictures near abandoned tracks.
The irony is not lost on members of the Scotia Rail Development Society.
As part of its mandate to raise awareness and develop economic opportunities to keeping the rail line open between Sydney and Port Hawkesbury, the society has sponsored a selfie contest that has now caught the attention of the line's owners, Genesee & Wyoming Canada Inc.
Participants in the contest were asked to create a selfie with abandoned tracks in the background with a message stating the significance of the rail line. The contest is now over and the winner will be announced during a special society meeting Sunday in Sydney.
The society has received a surprising letter from the owners regarding the contest.
"The Scotia Rail Development Society board was surprised to receive a letter from Genesee & Wyoming forbidding young people from taking pictures within 30 feet of the track," said society spokesman Greg MacLeod.
MacLeod said the group was especially surprised since there are no trains running and that while the society has sent letters to Genesee & Wyoming on other issues, this was the first communication received from them.
Chair of the society's communications committee Patricia Morrison is equally surprised at the company's reaction.
It is kind of an overkill response. It really seems like they are trying swing a big hammer, she said.
In its response, the company noted under transportation laws, it is illegal to trespass on railway property, under any circumstance, even if the track seems abandoned.
"Not only is it illegal, but it is also very dangerous," said the company spokesperson.
Morrison said the group is undeterred and will announce the winner of the contest Sunday.
The public meeting is set for 2 p.m. in the Pittman Hall at the Joan Harriss Cruise Pavilion on the Sydney waterfront.
Morrison said the meeting will receive updates on the society's petition and other efforts to save the line from being formally abandoned.
The owners have indicated an intention to abandon the line between Sydney and Port Hawkesbury. An application for abandonment can be filed in April, at the earliest, and the process could take as long as six months to complete.
Morrison said the meeting will also receive updates on possible developments for the line along with presentations to be made by Cape Breton Regional Municipality Mayor Cecil Clarke and MLA Derek Momborquette.
She said every politician from across the island has been invited to attend the meeting, adding that the society is exploring all possibilities from passenger service, to freight, to a tourist train in a bid to save the line from being torn up.
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