Highway 20 sound wall proposal meets provincial resistance

Anthony Abbondanza
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Beaconsfield citizens group exploring possibility of class action lawsuit against Transport Quebec (MTQ)

CSWC chairman Derrick Pounds seen here at a friend’s Beaurepaire Drive home, adjacent to Highway 20. The ceaseless noise has essentially negated the use of the backyard. 

Beaconsfield’s pursuit of a sound wall along Highway 20 is being met with resistance from Quebec’s transport authority, according to the chairman of the Citizens’ Sound Wall Committee (CSWC).

Derrick Pounds told the Chronicle last week the Ministry of Transport Quebec (MTQ) “must come to terms” with the CSWC’s legitimate mandate to secure a sound wall on behalf of the city of Beaconsfield and residents who live near the highway.

“Not at all,” said Pounds when asked if progress had been made. “I didn’t realize dealing with a government agency would be so difficult.”

 The CSWC was given the green light from local officials to negotiate for a sound wall in May to remedy a problem the MTQ created, he added.

 Changes to what was, in the 1940s, called Route 2 included the removal of traffic lights at St. Charles Boulevard and Woodland Avenue in 1970 and 1998, respectively. The changes, however, occurred after several dwellings in the area, adjacent to the highway, had already been built.

 “They have done changes to the highway. They should have been obligated to consider what would happen when they made those changes,” said Pounds, a resident of Sweetbriar Drive since 1963.

 “I remember walking the in middle of the highway. The traffic was nowhere near what we’ve got now.”

The issue of the noise level was cemented when the MTQ increased the speed limit from 70km/h to 100 km/h by the year 2000.

According to an Oct. 2010 MTQ report, at least 726 homes in Beaconsfield are subjected to a noise level over 55 decibels and that for 227 homes, the noise level is over 65 decibels – a number which must be mitigated according to the transport authority.

The very same report recommended a 4,887 metres-long barrier be built along Highway 20.

“I remember walking the in middle of the highway. The traffic was nowhere near what we’ve got now” Derrick Pounds, chairman of Citizens Sound Wall Committee

And though the transport authority is still interested in building a sound barrier, it’ll only do so by splitting the cost, evenly, with the city of Beaconsfield, as was reiterated in a July 7 letter written to the CSWC by the MTQ’s Montreal director Fadi Moubayed.

But for Pounds, the CSWC, and Beaconsfield officials, they don’t intend on spending “one penny.”

According to the CSWC, “the MTQ must be held fully responsible for the unacceptable traffic noise consequential to the changes they have made to highway 20.”

Also in the letter, Moubayed delegitimized the CSWC’s mandate by stating “we invite you to contact your city councillors.”

Moubayed also rebuffed a 2012 Beaconsfield resolution calling for the reduction of the speed limit on the highway to 70 km/h, complimented by the installation of photo radars.

The CSWC is in the process of writing once more to the MTQ in an effort to “get the facts straight” said Pounds.

Should all else fail, Beaconsfield residents affected by the incessant noise may begin a class-action lawsuit against the MTQ, similar to the ongoing case in Charlesbourg, QC, according to Pounds.

In July 2011, the Quebec Court of Appeal gave the residents, who live within a 300-metre radius of Autoroute 73, the green light to pursue a class-action suit. The residents were demanding $10,000 per person per year, not only retrospectively, but until the cessation of the noise.

“It would cost the government more money if they lose the suit rather than just build the sound barrier. It makes no sense,” said Pounds.

The MTQ could not be reached for comment.


Organizations: Ministry of Transport Quebec, Route 2, Quebec Court

Geographic location: Beaconsfield, Woodland Avenue, Montreal Charlesbourg

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