When I first moved into my present home after getting married 23 years ago, I realized we were very close to the Canadian Pacific Railway tracks. But it was only a few days into residing here that I found myself rudely awoken by some unspeakable noises from the trains. This did not happen every night, but often enough that I followed the advice of some family members and purchased a white noise machine. For my household it masked the disturbance.
Over the past two decades train noises have come and gone. In the 12 and a half years I have served as the city councillor for District 2, it has never been more of an issue than the past year, especially for those homeowners closer to the tracks.
One resident told me just last week, “the noise level is intolerable. There are trucks backing up constantly, loudly beeping, and even blow horns. It has become impossible for us and for our kids to sleep.”
Train noise affects people across our community. But given the volume of complaints I have been receiving, I asked for and received a face to face meeting with senior officials from CP Rail. Last week Director of Government Affairs Nathan Cato, joined by Robert McRobbie and Nick Pattyn, came to City Hall to meet with myself, Associate City Manager Jonathan Shecter and Mayor Mitchell Brownstein. After the meeting, I asked them to join me on site where some of the worst noise is occurring on the tracks next to Merrimac Road, impacting the Meadows Condominium.
Mr. Cato specifically is well aware of the problem at the Meadows. CP officials have met with Charles Guerin, a resident of the Meadows who compiled a comprehensive dossier on the problem. They recognize we have an issue and want to try and find some resolutions.
While they would not release exact details, Mr. Cato confirmed that a noise study on the tracks near the Meadows was conducted a few months ago. Unfortunately it showed that noise levels were well below Canada Health Standards.
“Could this survey had been done at a time when there were no railway noise disturbances?” I asked.
This CP team did not drive in from Ottawa just to have a chat. They sincerely want to help.I made it clear to them that many residents are in absolute misery some nights and we need to find a fix.
CP is under federal jurisdiction. Mount Royal Liberal Member of Parliament Anthony Housefather is our former mayor and well aware of the problem. Federal Minister of Transport Marc Garneau is the Liberal MP for NDG-Westmount. Can we get him involved in the situation?
The CP officials were sympathetic to those who are being affected by this. Work at 5 am sometimes cannot be avoided because it relates to urgent maintenance, they said. Trains that pass through in the early morning hours are often unscheduled late arrivals to Montreal and cannot be avoided. “Our operations run 24/7 and 365 days a year,” Mr. Cato said. “It is a big complicated picture.”
We asked if any kind of sound barriers could be erected. Mr. Shecter is looking into whether our noise bylaw, which prevents any work from taking place between 9 pm and 7 am, could be enacted where CP is concerned. He is looking into that.
I will continue to stay on top of this issue. CP officials are not taking the problem for granted. They wish to find a solution.
Constituents affected by disturbances from the CP yards should e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can properly document this.