Schukov The silence is deafening over Beaconsfield sound wall

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As I peruse the summary of the Beaconsfield Citizens’ Sound Wall Committee (CSWC) meeting held on May 25 in Centennial Hall, I imagine that their governmental counterparts/sleepers are paraphrasing a nugget from Hamlet: “Me thinks they doth protest too much.”

I say this because just as actions supersede words so does inaction speaks volumes. I can see the Hamlet reference resonating with the paper pushers trying hard not to have to put down their lattes and get up off of their swivel chairs and move the little noisy project along. Did I say “move?” How about checking for a pulse?

Some citizens who refuse to take a lack of government breathing for an answer met on the aforesaid day. In summary: “There are high intensity sound level zones in Beaconsfield residential areas where the ‘danger to health’ level of 65 dBA is breached. A May 18 and 19, 2010 sound survey measured values ranged from 72.7 to 81.4 dBA at the residents’ back fences between 41 and 79 Beaurepaire Dr. Similar high dangerous levels were measured at homes between the parks east of the Woodland Avenue-Highway 20 interchange. Transport Quebec’s 95 page October 2010 comprehensive report “Etude de pollution sonore” indicates that at least 227 homes along Beaurepaire Drive are subjected to traffic noise levels over 65 decibels. When sound levels are over 65 decibels mitigating steps MUST be taken according to the Québec Government.” (Well, apparently not.)

 In still old news, a brief was presented to Transport Minister Robert Poëti (Sept. 3, 2015) iced with a 850-signature petition to accept Transport Quebec’s proposal for construction of a Beaconsfield sound wall. Following the meeting with Poëti, Mayor Georges Bourelle received a letter from Transport Quebec director Fadi Moubayed, dated Nov. 25, 2015, confirming Transport Quebec’s commitment to initiate a study for the implementation of a project to build a wall along the south-side of Highway 20 in Beaconsfield. The letter included target dates for actions required towards construction — the proverbial cheque in the mail — by end of 2019.

Subsequently, Beaconsfield city council on Dec. 21, 2015 approved a mandate to Transport Quebec for initiating a 75 percent (province) /25 per cent (city) shared cost preliminary study for the construction of a wall; the study estimated between $100,000 and $ 200,000, to establish the type of concrete, wall thickness, support column details, etc. The study would also determine the cost for five kilometres of peace and quiet between Pointe-Claire and Baie-d’Urfé.

On Feb. 26, 2016, Moubayed advised Bourelle that tender documents were being prepared for a study to be conducted the previous summer. The mayor wrote to the transport ministry on July 11, 2016 and on Aug. 22 requesting that appropriate ministers check to see if this dossier is buried in some metaphorical in basket. Minister Laurent Lessard responded on Dec. 1, 2016, stating that the study had started in November 2016.

As of May 26, 2017 there is no indication on the Transport Ministry website that a contract has been awarded to initiate the look-see on technical details. The SEAO website shows four companies submitted offers in September to the a tender request dated Aug. 24, 2016. The CSWC asked Lessard by email Jan.27, 2017: “1) Why hasn’t a contract been awarded?; 2) When do you expect the reasons for delay in issuing a contract will be resolved and the contract awarded? and 3) When will the study begin and how long is the study expected to take?”

In response on May 23, 2017 from Transport Quebec’s Daniel Donais: “The ministry continues its discussions with the retained firm concerning their work program and budget proposal. Be assured that the city of Beaconsfield is kept informed on any and all developments pertaining to this subject.” (Total cost of this response: $0)

In the words of the CSWC:

“A sound wall would be a win-win for the city and residents since in addition to mitigating the health risks to thousands of residents, property values can be expected to rise, resulting in a corresponding increase in tax revenues. Hundreds of households are patiently waiting for action.

Although the City of Beaconsfield is a partner in the engineering study to be undertaken, the CSWC is puzzled why the city appears not to have more of an interest in and information regarding its progress. We see no signs that the city is working in concert with (Transport Quebec) to ensure the target dates are met nor a commitment of effort by the city to see the sound wall project advance.”

One can see the bureaucrats’ reticence at committing because like music can lead to dancing, awarding a study can invariably lead to a commitment to actually build a wall. To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, “M. Coullard, put up this wall.”

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