Will Beaconsfield ever build their sound wall?
Living next to a highway can have many advantages. Easy transportation, convenience, etc. Unfortunately, there is one negative aspect that outweighs the positive, and that is noise. For years, Beaconsfield residents living next to highway 20 have had to deal with the buzzing sound of car engines that are well above the health guidelines.
According to residents, the problem is much bigger than a simple nuisance, as the sound can be a health hazard as well. Living next to the 20 can mean being exposed to over 70dBA per day. Four schools are also within the polluted area.
The MTQ (transportation ministry) has given Beaconsfield their approval to build a sound wall that would measure about 5km in length, stretching across the city. Unfortunately, the years have gone by, and the sound wall is at a standstill.
Beaconsfield resident Michel Rheault has been living face to face with highway 20 for many years and called for the city to act against the noise. Rheault contacted the Beaconsfield City Council recently, explaining the various health risks that can be caused by noise pollution. He also questioned the city’s decision-making, asking them: “Do you really prioritize building a never requested ‘Taj Mahal on the lake’ instead of protecting the health of 6,000 Beaconsfield citizens including at least 2,000 kids?”
Mayor Georges Bourelle replied in an email exchange with Rheault by saying that the issue is financial, as a portion of the cost will be paid by the citizens, and they should know more details about this project. While in 2014 the MTQ had made an offer to cover 75% of the sound wall costs.
“We are awaiting a response from MTQ on our request to them to hold a public information meeting and allow our residents to be properly informed and have questions answered on technical issues and on the cost of the sound wall,” said Bourelle in his response.
Rheault was unsatisfied by this response, claiming that, once again, the mayor failed to address the health issues. Bourelle then answered by saying that he respected Rheault’s opinion but will not change the way he plans on handling the situation.
Beaconsfield council member Karen Messier also weighed in on the situation, stating that she is in total agreement with the mayor.
“Though it is clear that many residents living close to Highway 20 are strongly in favor of the wall due to elevated sound levels, there are many others who have expressed their concerns to me,” said Messier.
As of now, there have been no changes made to the council’s plan of action regarding the sound wall, despite Rheault’s continued attempts to rectify the ongoing health issue.
“There cannot be double standards.
The city actively supports IMAGINE (new multifunctional center), a prestige project to, among other things, move the library to a park: https://imaginecentennial.ca/ Similarly, I am awaiting your invitation to create the active support committee for the noise barrier project. (…)
We are asking for the same budget, the same support from city employees, and a website. I submit to you that I could take the lead of this committee, because I believe I have all the knowledge and qualifications, having been involved for several years in this project, in addition to the support of hundreds of exasperated citizens. "