Montreal residents take legal action against airport noise pollution

Citizens group calling itself Les Pollués de Montréal-Trudeau is asking for a curfew to be set from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Residents complain noise pollution keeps them them up at night, affects quality of life

Les Pollués de Montréal-Trudeau is asking for a flight curfew to reduce noise pollution from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. ( VERONICA BOGAERTS/ISTOCK)

A new citizens group is planning to file a class-action suit in an attempt to enforce a strict curfew on flights into and out of Montreal's Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport. 

Called Les Pollués de Montréal-Trudeau, or the Polluted of Montreal-Trudeau, the group represents residents from Dorval to Saint-Michel and Ahuntsic who say noise from flights passing overhead is keeping them awake at night and affecting their quality of life.

The group is asking for a flight curfew to be set from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. to reduce noise levels.

Group member Michel Dion has lived 11 kilometres from the airport in Ahuntsic since 1980.

"When I'm at home I live in my house with the windows closed. I had air-conditioning installed and I no longer go outside," Dion told CBC News.

He says he can't sleep with the windows open.

"One or two airplanes during the night is enough to wake you up."

Pierre Duquette is a doctor who lived in the affected area for three decades before moving because of the noise levels.

"I lived in [Ahuntsic] for 30 years and when I came, the first year was not too bad, but it progressively got worse. It starts at a quarter before six and ends at 1:30 a.m. And it's constant, it's all day," he said.

"In the end, I decided to move away because it was intolerable. It disrupts your sleep, you cannot eat outside... every five minutes you're interrupted by a plane."

The group claims to have recorded noise spikes of up to 85 decibels in residential areas of Montreal.

These measurements were taken from 10 stations installed by the group.

According to the World Health Organization, people should not be exposed to more than 55 decibels.

The Canadian standard is 65 decibels.

Group's findings disputed

Montreal's airport authority disputes the group's findings, saying there are various factors to consider when interpreting noise level data.

According to Aéroports de Montréal's own findings, the highest noise level in 2015 was 63 decibels recorded in Dorval.

In its annual report, the authority said there were 232,648 aircraft movements in 2015, or an average of 637 per day.

There is, however, no curfew for small aircraft using the airport, and a 1 a.m. curfew is already in place for airliners. 

Gérard Samet, the lawyer representing the citizens group, said the goal of a class-action suit is not to limit traffic, but rather to force the airport authority and Nav Canada to enforce a curfew and consider new flight paths to the airport that don't have planes flying low for long distances over populated areas.

CBC is awaiting a response from Montreal's airport authority.

With files from Radio-Canada's Thomas Gerbet