District 2 Councillor Karen Messier taking part
By Kevin Woodhouse
For many Beaconsfield residents living along Highway 20, excessive noise from cars and trains has been a concern for years and now the city has created a Sound Wall Committee made up of six citizens including Derrick Pounds who has been front and centre in trying to lobby for a sound wall. District 2 Councillor Karen Messier has also volunteered to be on the committee.
During the last municipal election campaign, Messier heard from many constituents who desperately want a sound wall but not at taxpayers’ expense. This kind of financing will be a challenge since the MTQ’s policy towards sound walls is that the municipality in question must defray half of the cost which is essentially the city’s operating budget for a single fiscal year, about $20 million.
“We have exhausted the government’s request and a survey to citizens about a local tax for a sound wall had no luck either,” Messier told The Suburban.
Because residents did not buy into paying for a sound wall themselves, the District 2 councillor is hoping that the citizen based committee will be “able to discuss the issue and come up with some alternatives. At the first meeting held this week, we will be providing the committee members with the entire dossier on file dating back the last four years.”
Pounds is quite impressed by the city’s new administration for its transparent approach, allowing the members to see all of the documents crucial to the sound wall, including communiques between the city and government officials.
“We definitely needed a new approach on this issue because we did not make any progress at all on sound walls in the last four years,” Pounds told The Suburban.
Pounds has always believed that a new sound wall should not come at a cost to Beaconsfield residents. “Our taxes are high enough,” said Pounds.
He doesn’t think a vegetal sound wall will do the trick since “it is an expensive process that needs care and follow up. And let’s be honest, greenery on the side of a highway does not do very well.”
Pounds would like to pursue other avenues such a perhaps installing a photo radar system along the 20 for off hour traffic. “During rush hours, the traffic is calm because it is controlled by traffic lights,” said Pounds. “But during off hours, motorists use the highway like a speedway.”
“We cannot ignore this issue but coming up with the appropriate funds is always a pressing issue,” said Messier.
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