Too noisy along the train tracks in TMR? Slap on some headphones, REM says

The consortium building the light rail line is giving residents in the area three options to help cut down the noise in their homes: noise-cancelling headphones, noise-reduction curtains or… nothing.

Consortium building the new light rail train line is offering headphones or curtains to help block out noise

Vincent Laithier, whose home is just metres from the track, said the options he was given to cut down on noise in his home are 'laughable.'

Some people living in Town of Mount Royal, along the construction zone for the new light rail train service, received a surprise, limited-time offer last month.

NouvLR — the consortium in charge of building the train line — sent a letter to close to 60 households along the tracks, offering solutions to help drown out the sound from the trains.

They were given three options: noise cancelling headphones, noise-reduction curtains or… nothing.

"This is completely ridiculous. They're laughing at people," said Vincent Laithier, whose home is just metres from the track, near the Canora station. He said the letter came out of nowhere.

"First it was surprise. Then it was disappointment and then we got angry. And now it's sort of laughable."
A representative for the light rail project told Lanthier these headphones, Mpow H5, are the ones they would have been provided. (Amazon)

Laithier said he felt panicked when he realized he only had days to make his decision. The letter, dated Aug. 13, asked people to make up their minds by Aug. 21.

After calling NouvLR for more information, Laithier said the consortium quashed the deadline. But even after emailing some questions he said he still doesn't even know if the blinds are for outside or inside the home.

"It was impossible for us to do research on the information they gave us. They just gave us the colour and the material."

As it turns out, they go on the inside. Homeowners will have to install the curtains themselves.

So, why not opt for the headphones? It turns out, NouvLR is offering just two sets per household. Including himself, his partner and his two young children, there are eight ears living in Laithier's home.

He said he chose the blinds, calling them the lesser of two evils.

"I think that that would benefit the family as a whole, hopefully, rather than just two people at once, or having children wear oversized adult headphones."

Solutions don't solve much, neighbour said

Next door, Katerina Valsamis ruled out the blinds because she's worried they'll block out the sunshine. But she's not very impressed with the alternative.

"So we have to walk around [the house] with headphones. If your husband or your kid want something from you, good luck," she said with a laugh.

Valsamis said she was stunned when she read the letter, calling the options patches, not solutions.
Katerina Valsamis opted for the headphones, but she's not happy about it.

She also said she isn't looking forward to the months of work at the edge of her backyard.

"Maybe I'll just go on vacation for two years. I don't know.

The spokesperson for the REM project, Jean-Vincent Lacroix, said there are already a lot of noise-mitigation measures in place, such as a sound barrier wall along part of the tracks. He said the headphones and curtains are bonuses.

"We offer them and if people want to be provided with them we're going to be quick and we're going to provide them," he said.

"All the effort that we're doing from the past year it's really to ... make sure that the work being done is [as quiet] as possible."

Lacroix said the headphones should be arriving in a few days while the curtains will be available in a few weeks.

The $6.3-billion light-rail network (REM) is slated to be fully up and running by 2023.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.