While Beaconsfield residents surveyed overwhelmingly opted against paying a local improvement tax for a highway sound wall, many told council at Monday’s meeting that they still favour having a noise barrier.
Close to 90 per cent of residents who replied to the city’s poll, with about half of the 800 homeowners targeted responding, said they are opposed to paying a local improvement tax to cover the costs of a potential $24-million 4.5-metre high sound barrier along the south side of Highway 20.
A major stumbling block for Beaconsfield has been the 50-50 cost sharing formula set by Transport Quebec.
“Right now, we have no indications (Transport Quebec) will change its policy. We requested they do,” Mayor David Pollock told The Gazette.
Council had adopted a resolution in 2010, based on a Transport Quebec study confirming noise levels along Beaurepaire Drive are above the acceptable standard of 65 decibels, and demanded the province foot the entire bill of a sound barrier.
Derrick Pounds, who has been lobbying for the wall for years, said residents want a sound wall built but don’t want to pay extra taxes. With a newly elected Parti Québécois government in place, he suggested the city re-send its request for the province to foot the entire bill.
Another resident said she doesn’t think council was sincere in sending out the survey, knowing a hefty lo-cal improvement tax wouldn’t be accepted.
Resident Jeremy Bolger wondered if the sound wall was now a dead issue for council following the survey results.
“I’m not against the wall. It has to do with how the taxation was going to be imposed in that survey,” he said, adding the noise barrier would be a benefit to the community at large.
When it was suggested the city as a whole should absorb the cost of sound wall, the mayor said the general population would never agree. Pollock added the city would have to pay 100 per cent of the cost of a sound wall on the north side of Highway 20 since trains are the main cause of noise along Elm Ave. and the railway companies have no policy or would ever consider paying a portion for such a barrier.
The mayor told residents Transport Quebec sets its cost-sharing formula for its own benefit, knowing full well small municipalities can’t afford to pay part of a highway sound wall. He added that the province has total control over such projects, from drawing up specifications to awarding of contracts. “They just send us the bill,” he said.