Ward 2 Councillor Bill Armstrong is not impressed with the civic works committee’s decision to take the cheap way out of addressing the noise concerns of some residents living near Veterans Memorial Parkway.
He said his constituents have a right to enjoy their property and the noise from the freeway has made that impossible for years.
He made the comments as the committee discussed options to improve sound mitigation in the neighbourhood at a meeting of the Civic Works Committee Monday evening (Jan. 21).
The decision was between the construction of a new $1.7 million, 2.44-metre high fence on top of the existing sound-attenuating berm or to spend $300,000 shoring up portions of the berm found to be “defective.”
The committee voted to accept the cheaper of the two, which was the recommendation of Richmond Hill-based Valcoustics Canada, the consultant hired to measure sound levels in the backyards of the affected residences..
According to chair Ward 10 Councillor Peter Van Meerbergen the committee recommended the option that delivers the best bang for the taxpayer buck.
“What they made abundantly clear tonight, these engineers, is either the fence or the berm are equally as effective,” Van Meerbergen said after the meeting. “So they recommend beefing up the berm in some spots, and perhaps extending it in others. The bottom line here is there isn’t a magic bullet but we’re doing the best that science is telling us and in terms of dollars, we’re maximizing it for the taxpayers so I think it’s a win-win.”
The committee heard the existing berm is doing the job of reducing noise to below the acceptable threshold of 60 decibels in all but three places. In those locations the berm either has to be made taller or needs to be extended and/or supplanted by a length of sound-attenuating fence.
The changes, which are subject to council approval, would take place in 2014. Staff would “initiate some surveys and consult with the community further” in 2013.
Armstrong is “not even a little” satisfied with that timeline.
“There are people who have been to city hall who’ve talked at length about what life is like there,” Armstrong told London Community News. “They can’t use backyard at all and they can’t open their windows. The property is useless.”
He said excluding the 401, Veterans Memorial Parkway has the most heavy truck traffic of any thoroughfare in the city. The noise from traffic during the day is affecting the affected residents’ quality of life and impacting their ability to resell the property.
“(Those residents) are going to be totally disappointed in this and quite upset. What am I supposed to say to them? I won’t know what to say. This is the heaviest truck route and we can’t make life better for them? There is something wrong with that.”
Armstrong said he would make his case again when the item comes up at regular council. He has hope some of his colleagues may come around, mentioning one other councillor has told him they have a friend living in the area.
“Hopefully they’ll see the light,” he said. “We need to do something now. It’s gone on this long. People living this way out there, need to get something done sooner than later.”