While a number of Beaconsfield residents being surveyed by the city are objecting to paying a hefty local improvement tax, they are in favour of a sound barrier being erected along the south side of Highway 20.
About two weeks ago, council sent letters to about 800 homeowners who live south of Highway 20 to ask whether they would be willing pay a share of the cost for a 4.5-metre high sound barrier over a 20-year period. The total cost estimated for the sound barrier is about $24 million, with the province expected to pay for 50 per cent.
Resident Kevin Lukian, who fired off a letter to Mayor David Pollock which he also shared with some of his neighbours, said while a sound wall is desperately needed to deal with highway noise, he objects to the cost-sharing formula and thinks the bill should be shared city-wide.
“It’s an important quality-of-life issue,” he told The Gazette. “There are a lot of elderly people on fixed incomes and not all the homes have high valuations. It should be paid municipal wide, not just on the backs of a few people.”
Lukian also expressed concern that the final cost will not be known until it is completed. “It would be like handing over a blank cheque,” he added.
Derrick Pounds, who has been lobbying years for a sound barrier, said he has voted No in the survey and added the province should foot the entire bill, as it has done in other jurisdictions. He said the feedback he has received from other residents is that the city didn’t explain the project well, from the materials to be used, the seemingly high cost per metre, determining the percentages homeowners are being asked to pay.
Pounds said some people are wondering if the survey was sent out by council knowing most would object and that the city would be absolved from having to pursue the sound wall dossier with the province.
The city broke down the cost for the wall into three sections. Homeowners living closer to the sound wall and expected to benefit more from its presence will pay a higher amount than those living further away, ranging from 45 to 10 per cent.
For instance, the owner of a home on Beaurepaire Dr. backing onto Highway 20 is being asked if they would accept paying about $40,000 over 20 years for a wall to be erected from Woodland Ave. to Kenwood St., which is just east of the shopping centre. About 460 homeowners are to pay for this central section of the wall, which is to cost about $13 million.
Two other shorter sections of the wall are on the eastern and western limits of Beaconsfield. The section from Woodland Ave. to Devon St. would cost about $5.5 million, affecting about 180 homes, and another part running from St. Charles Blvd. to Jasper Ave. is estimated at about $5 million, with 170 homeowners in this area being asked to pay a share.
The letter states that because rules governing the rejection of loan bylaws are strict, the city will apply a similar calculation to the survey responses, so if more than 15 per cent of the concerned homeowners oppose it, the project will not proceed.
Residents being polled were told they had to reply to the city by Oct. 29.