The noise and lights from Highway 20 have long been a daily irritation for many Beaconsfield homeowners living close by, who have asked for a sound wall for years and gotten nowhere.
Sweetbriar Street resident Derrick Pounds is among those petitioning the city and the province for a sound wall. He has lived about 200 metres south of the highway for 50 years.
He told Daybreak host Mike Finnerty on Tuesday that he keeps his windows shut all summer long, and his wife has to wear earmuffs just to sit in the backyard.
“It's a real bombardment on the highway, 24/7. It's really unbearable,” Pounds said.
He is part of a citizens’ group organized to lobby Transports Québec for a sound wall.
The issue for Beaconsfield Mayor George Bourelle isn’t so much the wall itself, but the price tag.
He said the wall would cost $25 million to build, and that the provincial government has insisted that Beaconsfield pay at least half, as per its policy.
Bourelle said that would double the town’s debt.
“Even if we spread it over 20 years, it would raise the average home's taxes by maybe seven to 10 per cent, and we know that is not acceptable to the homeowners,” Bourelle said.
65 decibels and up
Pounds said he, for one, doesn’t want to pay any more taxes.
“We pay enough taxes. We didn’t cause the problem. The problem was caused by the MTQ not considering the effects of the changes they made on the road to the citizens living there,” he said.
Pounds attributed an increase in noise to the raising of the speed limit on Highway 20, from 70 kilometres an hour to 100 kilometres an hour.
New residential housing developments in the western portion of the greater Montreal region have also contributed to an increase in traffic, Beaconsfield residents say.
Pounds said the residents of 720 homes are subjected to near-constant noise above 55 decibels, while 227 homes experience noise pollution at 65 decibels and up.
The low end of that decibel range is equivalent to the sound of a dishwasher in the next room, to a normal conversation.
According to the transport ministry's policy on noise, attenuation measures for residential areas that experience noise levels at 65 decibels or above can be put in place as long as there are at least 30 homes per kilometre affected by the noise — as long as the municipality affected pays half.
The mayor said now is a good time to amp up talks on a sound wall for Beaconsfield.
“Here we are in an election, the ideal time for this committee to lobby, and lobby hard, with the provincial government to change its financing policy… towards sound walls,” Bourelle said.