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Puslinch councillors unhappy with consultant report on ORC sound levels

by Mike Robinson

ABERFOYLE - To say Puslinch councillors were unhappy on May 4 might be an understatement.

GM BluePlan was hired earlier this year in response to councillor questions pertaining to the noise level assessment completed by dBA Environmental Inc. regarding the compressors at the Optimist Recreation Centre in Aberfoyle.

In his letter to council, Cory Young of GM BluePlan Engineering stated “in summary, the dBA reports (daytime and partial nighttime readings) recorded “background” noise levels that were “above the applied guideline limit of 50 decibels during both the daytime and nighttime hours.”

The guideline document recommends that noise levels in a small community setting with noise emitting from traffic and human activities be no higher than 50 decibels during daytime hours and 45 decibels during nighttime hours.

The dBA daytime report, when cross referenced with the township-supplied ORC compressor logs, suggests that a slight increase of 0.3 to 0.6 decibel increase is recorded when the ice rink compressors are running.

At the same time, Young noted there were times when the sound levels were higher when the compressor was not running.

“However, at no time during the assessment does the noise level decrease to a point below the 50 decibel limit and the report does not identify those source(s) of noise that could be contributing to the overall background noise levels.”

Young stated, “In order to fully identify and delineate the source(s) of noise reaching the residents of Maple Leaf Lane a comprehensive noise study would have to be undertaken assessing all the mechanical components at the ORC and possibly completing a longer-term noise level assessment.”

Previous reports to council suggested a solid wood fence be constructed to reduce perceived noise levels being emitted from the compressors.

“While the data would suggest that the compressors are not contributing in a significant manner to the overall noise levels, a wooden fence constructed alongside the compressors would show that the township is being proactive in addressing any potential noise issue ... and eliminating those items as a source for complaint by the local resident,” Young stated.

He added that based on existing data, background noise levels in the area of Maple Leaf Lane are above ministry guidelines - with or without the compressors operating.

Young suggested the cost to construct the proposed wooden sound fence in the area of the compressors would likely be less than the expense of completing a more comprehensive noise assessment monitoring and reporting.

Works superitendent Don Creed suggested full sound barriers could cost upwards of $50,000. However, the GM BluePlan report is simply recommending a visual barrier (at a much lower cost).

Councillor Susan Fielding said she would not be comfortable spending a lot of money because the compressor noise is “negligible.”

Councillor Matthew Bulmer supported GM BluePlan’s recommendation, but councillor Ken Roth disagreed.

“If the noise levels are above the provincial guidelines without the compressors running ... what is a fence going to do?” Roth asked.

Roth also questioned what the future maintenance costs of the fence would be.

Councillor Wayne Stokley agreed with Fielding, stating  “we need to bring this to an end.”

Fielding was uncertain about including the neighbours in the design of a fence. She explained the construction is minor and the township has been very open and accommodating throughout the process.

Mayor Dennis Lever said he is unhappy with the quality of the last report. “There was no answer to a number of questions which were raised.”

As far as the idea of building a wall, Lever pointed out data which indicated there were times noise levels dropped when the compressors were turned on. He acknowledged there were problems with the original single-stage compressor, which was late replaced with a two-compressor system.

Lever also noted that a number of cedars were planted to act as a visual barrier ... but it will take some time for those trees to grow.

“If we do build a wall, within a short time, no one is going to be able to see it,” said Lever, adding the fence will do little in terms of sound attenuation.

He did not favour the construction of a fence, noting, “It comes down to one neighbour is raising these concerns.”

Earlier, when a delegation appeared before council with concerns, Lever said most of those concerns were addressed.

“To me we are at the end of this ... I’d like to see the cedars grow in.”

When asked for a motion about building a fence, Roth asked where council should build a fence when it isn’t clear from where the noise is actually coming.

Bulmer suggested council get a price to plan something in next year’s budget. Lever asked if the director of public works could bring back a rough cost estimate for a fence.

May 13, 2016


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Manfred Ganning
May 15 2016 | 10:07
Re: ORC sound levels. Interesting to read the recent noise level assessment on the ORC. It seems there is no satisfying ONE resident at Maple Leaf Lane, regardless of what council does, or spend , on this lost cause. I defy any person to prove to me , they can hear a difference of 0.3 to o.6 decibels. Any further money spend ( or wasted ) on this project is not going to make any difference. My suggestion to council would be to " Call it a day " and show this ONE resident some nice real estate elsewhere.
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