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Some Beaconsfield residents risk health issues as proposed sound wall remains uncertain

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Some Beaconsfield residents risk health issues as future of proposed sound wall uncertain
Some residents of Beaconsfield are calling on their city officials to be more proactive when it comes to finding ways to help improve the quality of life for those who live along Highway 20. As Global's Brayden Jagger Haines explains, some residents say the constant hum of cars passing on the highway is causing major health issues and they want immediate action to help remedy the situation – Jun 1, 2022

For decades, some Beaconsfielders have been calling for the construction of a wall along Highway 20 to block out the sound.

The long-awaited project is currently undergoing public consultations.

Resident Michel Rheault’s home is less than 50 meters away from the highway and he has lived there for 12 years.

He says the noise affects his hearing and his sleep.

Rheault claims living by the roadway with the constant whoosh of cars has resulted in tinnitus, a constant ringing or other noise in one or both ears.

“When I go in my house or any other area I still hear some noise and it stays there for a awhile,” Rheault said.

Now Montreal public has confirmed his concerns.

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Read more: Transports Québec takes another step towards upgrading Highway 20 in L’Île-Perrot

Dr. Daivd Kaiser, who specializes in environmental health, said in an email that the noise levels measured in the residential area south of Highway 20 are higher than those recognized by the World Health Organization, the National Institute of Public Health of Quebec and the Direction régionale de Public Health of Montreal.

“They may have a negative effect on the health of the population, in particular an increase in the risk of cardiovascular incidents, inconvenience and sleep disturbance,” Dr.Kaiser said.

“More generally, it is recognized that residing less than 150 m from a highway or a major thoroughfare without mitigation measures, generates adverse health effects.”

Public health also stated the the northern section of the highway, although further away, also appears to have “problematic levels.”

Those health effects can vary according to public health such as discomfort, asthma, cardiovascular incidents and even in extreme cases cancer.

“There have been no document studies or analysis done for any health issues in Beaconsfield,” Mayor Georges Bourelle said in response.

“We can’t go on hypothesis and invest $60 million and we don’t have concrete document information health issues.”

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Dr. Kaiser was referring to figures collected in 2010 by the Quebec Transport Ministry.

Bourelle says he understands the highway is a serious issue for some residents but the majority of residents, he says, are not affected.

“They made a choice. they made a conscious decision to live there,” Bourelle said.

Of the 7,000 homes in West Island city, there are 148 homes who reside in the red zone which has noise level readings of 70 decibels or higher — as loud as a washing machine or a dishwasher.

A total of 300 homes are in the yellow and orange zones which are 100 and 150 meters away from the roadway.

Bourelle says the MTQ has not recorded many complaints surrounding highway noise in the orange and yellow zones.

According to the Transport Ministry, 55 decibels is the acceptable level for noise.

“The question is does everybody in Beaconsfield want to pay a fairly significant amount of taxes for 148 homes,” Bourelle said.

Read more: Beaconsfield mayor responds to protesters demanding swift action on sound wall

The latest rendition of the transport ministry’s sound barrier proposal is set to cost between 50 and 60 million, triple the previous estimate in 2010.

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Beaconsfield will be on the hook for a quarter of that, which amounts to just under $15 million, Bourelle said.

“It might be a great deal but on the calculation on the impact in Beaconsfield it would be doubling our debt and it would have serious impact on any other projects that we are planning,” Bourelle said.

The city is in the process of having public information sessions for residents.

The next public consultation is June 6th.

Residents will be explained the city’s tax simulation for the different zones and what the woven willow wall will look like.

Residents will also get a chance to answer a online survey on the acceptability of the sound barrier.

Bourelle says while it is not up to him he sees the project eventually being decided through a referendum process with a final decision likely to come down in the fall of this year.

 

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