Beaconsfield votes to impose Highway 20 and intercity train speed limits

“Will increase commute time by 43%”

By Robert Frank

Beaconsfield council passed a resolution at its council meeting, Aug. 20, aimed at limiting the speed of cars driving along Highway 20 and rail traffic—including VIA Rail intercity trains—to 70 km/h. The city is also calling for photo radar to be installed to enforce the new limit.

“This will affect residents of other communities and lengthen travel time by 43 percent,” Beaconsfield resident Greg Stienstra warned councillors. “It will cost transportation time, it will cost personal time, it will cost professional time and it will increase traffic congestion and pollution during rush hour.”

The Beaconsfield Citizens’ Association president leapt to the microphone when council voted on the resolution, explaining that trucks will use their engine brakes when they slow down upon entering Beaconsfield, severely worsening the road noise problem that the measure is intended to solve.

Mayor David Pollock retorted that he is “looking forward to Highway 30 being completed so that trucks will be diverted around Montreal.”

District 6 councillor Rhonda Massad stressed that the measure is intended to end the suffering that Beaconsfield residents have endured from traffic noise.

“These people have a medical problem,” she explained.

Massad added that Beaconsfield still plans to move forward with the erection of a sound barrier along Highway 20, in addition to its speed limit initiative. The city has no similar plans to help citizens who live adjacent to the rail right of way in north Beaconsfield.


“Ottawa and Quebec will never approve”

Town manager Patrice Boileau added that the Canadian Pacific and Canadian National transcontinental rail lines which run through Beaconsfield are of the highest calibre in the country. He said that this enables intercity passenger trains to travel at up to 160 km/h and freight trains 100 km/h.

“Transport Quebec will never approve Beaconsfield’s request to reduce speed limits on Highway 20,” Stienstra asserted in an interview following the city council meeting, “and railways are a federal responsibility.”

Beaconsfield also approved a $1.1 million measure to reline about 10 per cent of its fresh water lines, “mostly in the southeast sector,” Boileau told residents.

The city also voted to pay $102,759 for a contractor to inspect its water infrastructure, after a previous contractor allegedly failed to perform these services.

For Beaconsfielders Carl Mercier and Tammy Zuckerman the repairs can’t come soon enough.

Frustrated after being told that the problem originated in their house, Mercier said that he arranged for independent water testing after learning from neighbours that the city had also told them that they were the only ones with a problem.

“Besides finding double the maximum safe iron level in our water, they discovered very high levels of manganese—50 per cent higher than the safe maximum. We didn’t know what manganese was, so we read up on it and learned that it can cause intellectual impairment in children. In addition, the laboratory said that the turbidity of the water was ten times the acceptable limit.”

“I was pregnant and drinking the water when this first happened,” Zuckerman added. She said that the city is not supplying bottled water and that she fears that giving her now three-month old infant a bath might harm the child.

Beaconsfield also passed a resolution in favour of limiting wood burning during smog periods. District 2 councillor Karin Essen opposed the measure, saying that according to the information available to her, the city plans to turn the resolution into a bylaw in 2013.

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