Noise Walls Constructed Under Local Improvement Regulations

What are the Local Improvement Regulations?

Noise Wall 1The construction of noise walls is subject to the requirements outlined in the Local Improvement Regulations and the City of Brampton’s Noise Wall Policy. The Local Improvement Regulations under the Municipal Act, 2001 is provincial legislation that provides a mechanism for undertaking, administering and financing the construction of certain types of public works on municipal property. Works administered under the Local Improvement Regulations can be initiated by municipal councils or begin with a letter of request from the property owners. The Local Improvement Regulations provide a mechanism for projects (such as noise walls) to be funded jointly by the property owner and the municipality.  

Qualifying for a Noise Wall

To begin the process of having a noise reduction wall constructed under the Local Improvement Regulations, affected property owners must file a petition requesting installation of the new noise wall or replacement of an existing wall. Petitions can be obtained from the City of Brampton’s Clerks Office by submitting a letter of request and then City staff will prepare a standard petition. The petition will be returned with a letter explaining the process and a site plan diagram showing where the noise wall is being proposed.

Any property owner who lives on a street that the City of Brampton is responsible for can request a noise wall from the City under the Local Improvement Regulations. There are specific criteria that must be met before the project can be considered. Current guidelines for the Ministry of the Environment state a noise level of 55dBA is acceptable for residential areas. To qualify for a noise wall the noise level must reach 60 dBA. Measurements will be taken on a week day over a 16-hour period from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Noise measurements should be related to traffic and should not include unrelated noises such as air conditioning units, barking dogs or factory noise.

Petition Requirements

A petition in favour of undertaking work as a local improvement must be supported by at least two-thirds of the affected property owners representing at least one-half of the assessed value of the affected properties. A petition against undertaking work as a local improvement must be signed by at least a majority of the owners representing at least one-half of the assessed value of the affected properties. Where two or more persons are jointly assessed for a lot, they collectively shall be treated as one owner only and a majority of them must sign for the petition for that property to be sufficient.

If the petition is found incorrect or has been modified in any way, the petition will be turned down even if the City receives the necessary signatures.
 
Consistent with the Region of Peel noise policy, an informal and formal petition to construct a noise wall as a Local Improvement project shall only be considered for an entire subdivision block consisting of a minimum of three (3) benefitting properties.
 
In the event that the formal petition is unsuccessful, a minimum waiting period of two (2) years from the date that the formal petition was declared unsuccessful will be imposed on that location.

Noise Assessments

Noise Wall 2Sounds associated with traffic or industry can be very disruptive to adjacent residents. Assessments indicate whether or not acceptable noise levels are present now and in the future. Assessments identify if, and to what extent, noise attenuation measures (e.g. noise walls) are required. The Ministry of the Environment (MOE) made noise assessments mandatory in the late 1970s and the City of Brampton’s Official Plan was updated to incorporate the MOE requirements.

Measuring Sound

Sound that is audible to the human ear is measured in decibels (dBA’s). Typical backyard sound levels during the day in an urban setting vary from 50 dBA to 70 dBA. Over 60 dBA, conversation becomes difficult and could require raising your voice. An increase of 10 dBA is perceived as a doubling of loudness. For roadways, doubling of traffic volume results in a 3 dBA increase.

Cost of a Noise Wall

Noise Wall 3The cost of the noise wall depends on the type of noise wall required for your property. All local improvements are evaluated for technical and financial feasibility. The actual cost of the wall will be determined by the City of Brampton. Although there is no limit to the length of the noise wall, the cost is based on the portion of the wall that will abut your property.
 
A public meeting may be held to discuss the type of wall being constructed.
 

On November 25, 2015, Council gave staff approval to develop an Implementation Plan that will look into the possibility of the City funding 100% of the replacement cost of all existing privately-owned noise walls adjacent to City roads. If approved by Council, the Implementation Plan will determine future replacements of existing noise walls based on condition survey and priority ranking. Until Council approval of the Implementation Plan, the funding split for replacement of existing noise walls will continue to be 75/25 with 75% paid by the City of Brampton and 25% paid by the property owners.

If a noise wall does not currently exist and homeowners are successful with their petition for a new noise wall, the funding split will be 50/50 with 50% paid by the City of Brampton and 50% paid by the property owners.

A successful petition for a noise wall will result in a charge being added to the property owner's tax bill for their share of the construction costs, regardless of whether that property owner supported the petition or not. The owner’s share of the noise wall cost can be amortized over a 15-year period. Also, the City must have adequate funding in its budget to pay for the noise wall.