Noise in a Growing City

UPDATE: June 10, 2021

City is updating the 35 year old Motor Vehicle Noise Policy and Guideline, but is waiting for a new hire  – a Transportation Facility Engineer – to lead this project. The Engineer is expected to be on staff in Fall 2021. The City is potentially looking to University of Manitoba  for support, or may look at a different approach. It is critical to update this policy for a number of reasons:

  • Winnipeg is transitioning into being a global multi transportation hub, and the sounds related to transportation will have negative impacts on urban livability
  • Winnipeg and the surrounding communities are projecting to grow to over 1 million residents in the next 20 years
  • The World Health Organization on noise pollution concludes noise is “not only an environmental nuisance but also a threat to public health.”

It’s been two years since the request was made to Public Works to start updating the 35 year old policy, and we are hoping to see significant progress starting this fall. Public Works explains they have a lot of projects underway and this isn’t a high priority.

UPDATE: March 2021
The public service indicated the plan to work with University of Manitoba stalled due to team members taking over other responsibilities and projects. The City is also in the process of hiring a new Transportation Facility Planning Engineer. The department expects this project to be back on track in the next 4-6 months. I expect another update in July 2021.

UPDATE: November 10, 2020
I’m pleased to have an update on the motion I made back in July 2019 (see below). The Public Services updated the Public Works committee with a Noise Report mid November.

The Winnipeg Public Service is partnering with the University of Manitoba to study noise impacts. Based on the outcomes of the study, the Public Service will update the City’s Motor Vehicle Noise Policy, which is 35 yrs old. The cost of the study is anticipated to be around $100,000. The University of Manitoba is applying for a grant to fund the project. I am optimistic they will be successful. Please watch this website for future updates. The Public Service anticipates the study and updates to the policy will take approximately three years.

See University of Manitoba Proposed Work Plan.

As Winnipeg grows, so does the noise level. The City of Winnipeg’s most current Motor Vehicle Noise Policy and Guideline is 35 yrs old. Over the past few years, I’ve had multiple discussion with residents on noise coming from the Perimeter Highway and on Kenaston Boulevard. I’ve made a motion for the public works department to review the City’s current noise policy and guidelines. The department will be exploring partnerships with universities and colleges to participate in the review. New technology is offering new ways to measure and track noise in cities and Winnipeg needs to move forward with these new technologies.

WHY is the noise increasing? The City is growing, combined with the fact that Winnipeg is positioning to become a global, multi modal transportation hub, an Inland Port – through the development of Centre Port, and in partnership with the Province of Manitoba and Government of Canada. Hundreds of millions of dollars by all levels of government are supporting this initiative. Simply put this means trains, planes, and truck volumes will be increasing in the years to come, and so will the noise associated with these forms of transportation.

For south Winnipeg, we will see more semi-trucks on the South Perimeter and on Kenaston Boulevard. When the Kenaston Boulevard extension from Bishop Grandin Boulevard to the South Perimeter Highway was constructed, through Bridgwater, it was planned and constructed as an ‘expressway’, a multi-lane regional street, and a full-time truck route. See Waverley West Arterial Roads Project. Today, average weekday daily traffic volumes on this section of Kenaston range around approximately 21,000 vehicles, and a speed limit of 80 km/h.

Traffic on Kenaston will increase when Highway 75 is rerouted around St Norbert and connects with the Perimeter Highway, and when Centre Port becomes more developed. Future development of the Perimeter Highway plans are for a fully grade-separated freeway that can ultimately accommodate six lanes on the Perimeter. Daily traffic volumes on the Perimeter today average around 30,000 vehicles and are projected to double in the next 30 years. The James Richardson International Airport also operates 24/7 and has the most dedicated freight movement in Canada. And while the City’s Motor Vehicle Noise Policy and Guideline does not deal with aircraft noise, it is something to consider as the flight paths do impact residents in St James area. All of these transportation modes result in increasing noise in a growing City that if not managed, will impact our quality of life. A good starting point is to update the City’s Motor Vehicle Noise Policy and Guideline.

On July 2, 2019 I made the following motion:

WHEREAS according to the United Nations, 54 per cent of the world’s population today lives in urban areas, a proportion that is expected to increase to 66 per cent by 2050;

AND WHEREAS urbanization, economic growth and motorized transport are some of the driving forces for environmental noise exposure and health effects;

AND WHEREAS according to the Conference Board of Canada, Winnipeg’s growth is expected to reach 1 million residents by 2040;

AND WHEREAS a recent World Health Organization on noise pollution concludes noise is “not only an environmental nuisance but also a threat to public health”;

AND WHEREAS the most current City of Winnipeg Motor Vehicles Noise and Policy Guidelines is 35 years old;

AND WHEREAS the Public Service is currently conducting a sound study for effective measurement of noise levels and photo noise enforcement;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Standing Policy Committee on Infrastructure Renewal and Public Works be requested to direct the Winnipeg Public Service to conduct a cross-jurisdictional review of motor vehicles noise policies and guidelines and conduct a comprehensive update of the City of Winnipeg’s Motor Vehicle Noise Policies and Guidelines.

On September 22, 2019 the Standing Policy Committee on Infrastructure Renewal and Public Works directed the Winnipeg Public Service to:

  1. Explore a partnership with universities and colleges to review and update the City of Winnipeg’s Motor Vehicle Noise Policies and Guidelines.
  2. Provide quarterly verbal updates to the Standing Committee.
  3. Report back within 365 days with the results of the review.