There is No End to the Noise of a City

(Note: The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views or the position of BOMA Calgary.)

My vacation this summer was a five-day kayaking trip down the South Saskatchewan River from Medicine Hat to Sandy Point, a distance of about 160kms.

Camping on the river banks, miles from civilization, experiencing the intense quiet was one of the most notable memories of the trip. There was no noise beyond the occasional hooting of owls and the singing of coyotes.

Upon return to the city, one of the first things I noticed was its ambient noise. There is a very pronounced hum from traffic, the wailing of emergency vehicles and noisy neighbours. It was quite a contrast.

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This brings me to the complaints arising out of the airport expansion and the new runway. It is new and different and the change has precipitated understandable complaints to the residents’ elected officials. Now I hear some are seeking compensation.

Wait a minute! My residence in Oakridge in the city’s southwest quadrant is about 30km from the airport yet I routinely hear aircraft making their climbing right turns out of YYC, ostensibly heading to YVR and other western destinations. There are scores each day and it can momentarily drown out a conversation. With the heavy freighter aircraft, the noise is often more pronounced. And the reverse is true. Many aircraft pass directly overhead when making their final approach to the airport.

To compound things the police Hawks helicopter is often overhead on patrol, as is the traffic helicopter morning and evening. They are at times annoying.

Does this give me a legitimate cause for complaint? Or for compensation? I think not.

When people chooses to live in a city they must accept it for what it is. It is not reasonable to hold others to account for the decisions they make. And this applies to those who chose to live adjacent the airport. It is a reasonable expectation that Calgary will continue to grow, as will road and air traffic. People should take these things into consideration when purchasing a home. What will the future look like?

As to the compensation aspect, given that Calgary applies market value assessment, the market will therefore determine the value of the affected properties which, due to their location and proximity to the airport, will have their value reflected in their annual assessment. This may indeed provide some tax relief for the reduced value.

The city should not afford any special consideration to those properties near the airport as it will set a dangerous precedent for any future complaint, however caused.

That is the most equitable resolution to an uncomfortable situation.

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