City of Saskatoon Local Area Planning (LAP)
Montgomery Place – Noise Pollution
LAP Meeting 8 – 15 March 2016
About 40 Montgomery Place residents attended the LAP meeting on Noise on March 15 at St. David’s Trinity United Church.
Facilitator Nancy Lackie welcomed residents, introduced city staff, Councillor Pat Lorje, and the guest speaker. Steven Bilawchuk of ACI Acoustical Consultants Inc. in Edmonton spoke about sound. Learn the basics of sound at http://www.aciacoustical.com/ .
Montgomery Place Concerns
To begin the meeting, Montgomery Place residents listed their Top Ten noise concerns, in no particular order:
- Circle Drive traffic
- Truck traffic on Chappell Drive – A corollary noise problem was identified as traffic coming from Highways 7 and 14 using 11th Street as an alternate route to get to Circle Drive.
- Truck traffic and heavy traffic on 11th Street Bypass
- Moving and shunting trains – the Chappell railyards – and the Intermodal Terminal
- Incessant train horn and whistle noise especially in the middle of the night
- Viterra elevator
- Landfill Gas Recovery Facility
- Construction noise at COC and anticipated future noise on completion of the project
- Valley Road traffic
Sound – Steven Bilawchuk
For about 1½ hours, Steve Bilawchuk gave an introduction to sound.
Sound – Sound needs a medium through which to travel. It travels as a wave. A long soundwave has a low frequency. Conversely, a short soundwave has a high frequency. Low frequency sound travels better and is typical of environmental noise. Children hear better than adults do. A two decibel (dB) change in sound is needed before people notice a difference. Sound measurements are not linear scales; they are logarithmic. Sound at five decibels is “strongly perceptible” so 5 dB is the limit used for noise regulations around the world.
Factors Influencing Sound – Sound propagation is influenced by many factors. The most important factor is atmospheric absorption. Wind accounts for the single biggest fluctuations day-to-day. Temperature and temperature inversions which bounce sound down also affect what we hear. Rain changes the character of noise. Topography affects noise, with hills acting as barriers and valleys as amplifiers. Ground cover provides some sound absorption, but generally not much. Snow acts as an absorptive blanket.
Traffic Noise – The sources of noise are varied. Traffic, when speeds are above 50 kph, is almost entirely tire noise. Engine noise, especially acceleration or braking of large trucks and buses, exhaust noise and turbulence noise are also typical traffic noises. Traffic noise varies with the road type and conditions, the vehicle types and conditions, tire configurations, the number of vehicles and their speeds, and the engine loads. Traffic noise does not reduce much with distance.
Rail Noise – The dominant sound from rail noise is the locomotive because it produces a low frequency sound that moves out from a point high off the ground. A sound wall of at least five metres height is needed, as close to the source of the sound as possible, to diminish rail locomotive noise. Noise from rail cars radiates from their wheels at ground level. Rail noise is dependent on the engine load, the track condition, the gap between rail sections, the conditions of the wheels, and wheels rubbing on curves. It is dependent on how long the train is and the distance from the train. It is usually more intermittent than traffic noise. Noise from railyards and rail maintenance shops is also difficult to buffer. There is no controlling train horns; rail companies have absolute control over when, how long and how often horns are sounded.
Industrial Noise – Industrial noise can be from stationary mechanical equipment like pumps, fans and compressors. In these cases, sound mitigation is possible. Decreasing or alleviating the sound of moving equipment and machines is harder to deal with.
Sound Barriers – Many factors impact the effectiveness of sound walls and barriers. Some sound will always transmit through barriers. Some sound will travel over barriers. Some will reflect off a barrier.
Factors to Consider for Barriers – High frequency sound can be blocked well. Low frequency sounds generally present more of a problem. Maximize the sound path length for best attenuation. In other words, build the barrier as close as possible to the source of the noise. Midway between the source and homes is the worst possible place, as is directly beside the homes affected. The mass of the barrier is important; the surface density should be 20 kg/m². Pay attention to reflection because walls will reflect noise back. A barrier on a hill is usually a very effective barrier. The height of the barrier is also important; the higher, the better. The shape of the barrier matters. Curves and cantilevers can help.
Regulations – There are different regulations for different noise sources. There are no traffic noise regulations in the City of Saskatoon, the province of Saskatchewan or federally. There are no municipal, provincial or federal industrial noise regulations. Saskatoon has a Noise Bylaw that functions as a nuisance bylaw. Rail noises are federally-regulated, with no noise level criteria. For new neighbourhoods building close to railways, there are requirements for berm heights and setbacks. None of these requirements are retroactive.
The City distributed questionnaires for those in attendance to answer. Asking for the address or general location, residents were asked to list their top five noise concerns at that address. The questions were:
- What kind of noise or sound does this source make? (Hum or pitch, impulse like hammering, intermittent or irregular)
- Is there a specific time when this noise affects you most? (Time of year, time of day)
- Where on your property do you find the noise impacts you the most? (Front yard, in the house upstairs or downstairs, back yard)
- How does this noise affect you and your quality of life?
- What would you suggest as a solution to alleviate this noise concern?
A subsidiary question on the Comment Forms asked:
- Based on the information provided to you tonight, what would be a potential noise recommendation in the Montgomery Place LAP that you think would help alleviate your number one noise concern?
For those Montgomery Place residents unable to attend the meeting, they can share thoughts and concerns with LAP Planner Melissa Austin at Melissa.Austin@Saskatoon.ca.
Discussion was brief once the presentation was over and the questionnaires completed, even though an additional 30 minutes was added to the meeting.
Circle Drive South and 11th Street Bypass Traffic Attenuation – With the criteria outlined by Steve Bilawchuk, the too-short berm and too-low fence between Circle Drive and the eastern edge of Montgomery Place is totally ineffective. “Our backyard enjoyment has been destroyed. We can’t even hear conversations in our backyard,” said one resident. “We can hear the noise over the sound of our television in the house,” commented another. The 11th Street Bypass fence gets the same inadequate grade. Solutions? The Circle Drive berm and fencing need to be redesigned, relocated and lengthened. Extend and heighten the berm and put a wall on top. Reconfigure, redesign and relocate 11th Street from Highway 7 to Circle Drive. All that traffic should be diverted away from Montgomery Place.
Civic Operations Centre – “The noise from the COC is already horrendous,” remarked a Cassino Avenue resident, continuing “What will it be like when the buses, the dump trucks and all the City’s heavy equipment are going in and out regularly?” The meeting was told that Steve Bilawchuk’s company has been contracted to assess noise reaching nearby residences once the COC is completed and operations begin. That will account for buses and the snow dump, but not for the anticipated relocation of all the City yards and the heavy equipment which will come with that future move. What about the smells that will come too? “Build an effective berm around the entire property,” was suggested as a solution.
South Berm – The south berm on the former Burma Road garnered many comments. “We can see over it,” said one resident. The berm currently being built on the south border of Montgomery Place is too low. It isn’t even an effective visual barrier. Plus, as was just explained, the berm should be placed close to the noise source, not at the first homes that encounter the sound. There is no solution on the horizon. City officials say that what we see is all we can get for a south berm.
Landfill Gas Recovery Project – Apparently people forget to close the doors, allowing a constant, ungodly high-pitched humming noise to escape from the Landfill Gas Recovery Facility that affects homes in eastern Montgomery Place. Homes affected include the 3100 blocks of Mountbatten and Dieppe, Cassino, Lancaster and Bader. All sound from the south seems to travel straight to Montgomery Place. The solution? Close the doors!
The next LAP meeting is on the topic of neighbourhood safety. It will be held in Montgomery School on Wednesday night, April 6, 2016, at 7 pm. The second neighbourhood safety LAP is April 19 at St. David’s Trinity Church at 7 pm. Melissa Austin said, “The principles of Safe Growth and Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) are applied in safety sections of Local Area Plans. This is a community-centered approach to crime and perception of safety. All community members are encouraged to come out and share their local knowledge and experience, and to work with the City to develop strategies to reduce the opportunity for crime, and improve perception of safety.”
Noise has been a challenge for Montgomery Place since the first residents moved here.
1946 – Residents knew when they moved to Montgomery Place that the grain elevator would be a constant companion. By 1946, the elevator had been in residence on 11th Street for more than 30 years. The road to Montgomery Place from the east was lined with industry – the Royalite Refinery, the stockyards and Fred Mendel’s Intercontinental Packers. These industries added other sounds and smells. Apart from the elevator, it was tranquil prairie to the north, west and south.
1955 – Against public protest from citizens in Montgomery Place, King George and Holiday Park, the City chose to locate the Landfill on our southern edge. Garbage trucks were added to the noise pollution, as were sounds of equipment operating at the dump.
1963 – Despite a year of protest from Montgomery Place residents, in 1964 the City moved the CN yards from the downtown core to just south of Montgomery. Rail noise and traffic increased accordingly, as did truck traffic through Montgomery Place until Chappell Drive was built.
1965 – Kramer Tractor located at 3502 11th Street.
1974 – Boychuk Construction developed Cassino Avenue.
1980s – Despite concerns from Montgomery Place residents, a new Holiday Park Industrial Park added many more businesses nearby, with accompanying sounds and traffic increases.
1990s – Sometime in the 1990s the elevator added new and noisy equipment which heightened the unrelenting noise coming from the north.
2013 – With the completion of Circle Drive South, the traffic noise from the eastern perimeter became almost non-stop. The new 11th Street bypass to the north suffered the same increase in noise, especially in heavy truck traffic from the railyards and Highway 7. Added to that was the increased rail noise from longer and more frequent trains.
2014 – The City opened the Landfill Gas Collection & Power Generation Facility introducing new noise from the south.
2017 – Valley Road will be home to the COC – the Civic Operations Centre – housing City bus barns, the snow dump and eventually the City yards – bringing more noise from the south as buses, trucks and a variety of heavy equipment travel back and forth.
Future – The land between Chappell and Highway 7 is slated for business, commercial and industry development, which means Montgomery Place residents can expect more noise.