Class action lawsuit to fight Montreal airport noise pollution gets go-ahead

Citizen group Les Pollués de Montréal-Trudeau says the noise made by airplanes flying over their homes is ruining their quality of life.

Citizen group says noise made by airplanes flying over their homes is ruining their quality of life

According to Aéroports de Montréal, the highest noise level in 2015 was 63 decibels recorded in Dorval. (Francois Mori/Canadian Press)

A group of homeowners who live along the flight paths of Montreal's Trudeau International Airport say they're thrilled the class action lawsuit request they filed has been authorized to go forward.

"The noise is intolerable," said Pierre Lachapelle, president of the citizen group Les Pollués de Montréal-Trudeau. "The people have had enough."

The lawsuit targets the airport authority, the federal Ministry of Transport and Nav Canada, the company that runs Canada's civil air navigation service.

Lachapelle, who lives in Ahuntsic, says when a plane flies over his home, it sounds like a home invasion.

"It fills your space — for a short period of time — but it's awful. It's awful to hear," he said.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of residents in as many as nine neighbourhoods who live along the airport's flight paths, including Saint-Laurent, Ahuntsic, Saint-Michel and Villeray. 

The group says the noise made by airplanes flying over their homes is ruining their quality of life.

Pierre Lachapelle, left, is the president of Les Pollués, the group behind the class action lawsuit. Lawyer Gérard Samet, right, said he considers the go-ahead on the lawsuit a big victory. (Radio-Canada)

"During the summer, if your windows are open on a Friday evening, planes can come as [often as] once every two minutes," said Michel Dion, whose name is on the lawsuit alongside Lachapelle's, on behalf of Les Pollués.

The group hasn't yet set a dollar amount for compensation. Dion says the priority is to reduce the noise. Still, he says he would like to be reimbursed for the triple-pane windows he installed in some rooms because of it.

Planes louder and flying lower: homeowner

Roger Trottier has lived in Saint-Laurent since 1994. He says he and his wife bought their home when most flights to Montreal were to be redirected to the Mirabel airport. 

But since then, Trottier says, the planes have gotten bigger, louder, more frequent and seem to fly at lower altitudes. 

"I bought and I'm sorry to have bought because things started to change slowly, year after year after that. And now, we find that we have some 60 to 70 flights between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.," Trottier said.

Roger Trottier lives in Saint-Laurent, where he says the noise from planes flying overhead is so bad his wife needs pills to stay asleep through it. (CBC)

According to airport authority Aéroports de Montréal, the highest noise level in 2015 was 63 decibels, recorded in Dorval.

Other neighbourhoods, including Saint-Laurent, Town of Mont-Royal, Pointe-Claire and Ahuntsic, had readings ranging from 38 decibels to 59 decibels.

The World Health Organization states people should not be exposed to more than 55 decibels. The Canadian standard is 65 decibels.

A 1st in Quebec, lawyer says

The class action go-ahead, granted by Justice Chantal Tremblay, means the airport and the ministry must hand over information, including takeoff and landing practices as well as statistics on airplane noise.

Gérard Samet, the lawyer representing the group, said he considers Tremblay's decision a big victory — a first in Quebec for an airport the size of Montreal's. 

"This judgment is an extremely new development. Before aeronautical activities were strictly overseen by the federal government," said  "Now, they can no longer be ignored by [civil] law." 

With files from CBC reporter Verity Stevenson

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