Translink has embarked upon a new series of consultations about the Pattullo Bridge. The City of New Westminster itself also recently made waves when it announced it was going to focus on completing its Master Transportation Plan before collaborating with Translink (for the record, I say “bravo” for that). The future of the Pattullo Bridge will have a significant impact on residents in New West, as it seems Translink is quite determined to widen the bridge to 6 lanes, bringing more traffic using our city as a thoroughfare to get to other places. Green New West and City Caucus have already blogged about the first consultation (and local Hector Bremner got a sneak peek at the plans) – but there are other consultations, including one tonight at Inn at the Quay. All New Westminster residents should make plans to attend at least one. If you can’t make it in person, a live webinar is scheduled for March 8th.
The reason I draw your attention to the Pattullo Bridge plans is because the increase in traffic noise is something that has been raised as a concern (and was when we talked about the UBE too), and it’s gotten me thinking about noises in the city.
I live on the ambulance feeder route to Royal Columbian Hospital and when we moved in we spent two or three sleepless nights, tossing and turning to the screeching and whining of the sirens. And then we adjusted. People come to our house now comment on the sirens, and we generally reply “What? Huh? Oh, right, the sirens,” because we have completely forgotten about them.
A friend of mine used to live by the airport in Richmond in a small community called Burkeville. I remember one New Year’s Eve we sat in her hot tub in her yard and toasted the midnight clock strike under a giant jet headed for destinations unknown. Planes rumbled over her house with cupboard rattling proximity and we hardly even noticed.
City noises permeate our life. Whether it’s your neighbour and their incessant leaf blowing or car vacuuming, or whether you live on a major transportation route, city noises are a part of what makes up the urban fabric. They are a trade-off, in essence, of having easy access to services we desire.
So many cities worldwide have a noise bylaw and they generally address things like barking dogs, construction, obnoxious neighbours, and other noises I see as irregular noises. Your neighbours are prevented from doing things that may generate unacceptable levels of noise – no construction before or after certain times, for example.
A city generates sounds – the whoosh of traffic, the hum of a factory, the sounds from a working river or railway. The become a part of the landscape of where we live. I took a trip once to visit my brother in Northern BC and the first two nights I was there I couldn’t sleep because it was simply too quiet. During this most recently held municipal election, I was chastised for not caring about my fellow residents because I admitted I don’t mind the sound of trains, and in fact, I kind of like them.
What do you think are acceptable city sounds?