The Canadian Transport Act of 2007 requires the Canadian Transport Agency (CTA) to investigate all complaints made regarding noise and vibration from railway operations and construction. In October 2009, the CTA decided in favour of the community group ruling that “GO Transit was in breach of its obligation to cause only such noise and vibration as is reasonable during pile driving activities at the site”.
While recognising the long-term benefits for works to progress, the ruling emphasised the need to balance these against the interests of local residents impacted by noise and vibration. It went on to state that insufficient measures had been taken to reduce noise and vibration impact and proposed a range of corrective measures including:
- Stipulating the use of different pile-driving hammers and techniques such as replacing impact hammers with lower noise alternatives such as a vibratory hammer or a Giken hammer, operating hammers with reduced power, implementing noise shrouds and deploying moveable noise barriers
- Limiting work hours for pile-driving activities to 08:00 – 16:00 weekdays only
- Implementing a continuous noise and vibration monitoring program with weekly reporting
- Establishing a range of communication measures including daily updates to a website showing activity schedules, two weeks notice to any schedule changes, e-mail and phone complaint centres responding to complaints within maximum 48 hours and posting weekly noise and vibration reports on the web for review
Go Transit was given two weeks to appeal the ruling and to provide the CTA with detailed evidence as to why the transit company should not be required to implement the proposed measures. In December 2009, the CTA announced that “... the Agency finds that GO Transit has failed to demonstrate sufficient evidence as to why the proposed measures cannot be implemented. As a result, the Agency is ordering GO Transit to implement corrective measures”.
The announcement continued, “The interests of communities affected by noise and vibration must be considered at first instance by railway companies and urban transit authorities in determining how best to perform their activities in order to meet their obligation under section 95.1 of the Canada Transportation Act”. In this way, the Agency emphasized that noise and vibration mitigation is critical and must be addressed by railway companies and urban transit authorities early in the planning process of any project.