Airport noise group seeks results with improved complaints app

Montréal-dB hopes noise incident database will stir ADM into action

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Airport noise group seeks results with improved complaints app
Martin C. Barry

A citizens’ group that is lobbying the Montreal airport authority to cut down aircraft noise has succeeded at least in getting Aéroports de Montréal’s undivided attention with a smartphone app, outpacing a rival group that is currently pursuing class-action lawsuits.

Montréal-dB, which publishes the AÉROplainte app, recently released the initial results of its airplane noise monitoring activities for 2019.

Last year, 519 unique opt-in users of the AÉROplainte app filed 32,224 airplane noise complaints with Aéroports de Montréal (ADM), according to Montréal-dB’s data.

Unreported complaints

While all other airports in Canada report airplane noise complaints that they receive, Montréal-dB founder Bill Mavridis claims the ADM has been under-reporting airplane noise complaints since 2013 by following a policy of only reporting one complaint per person per day.

However, Mavridis added that ADM announced in 2019 that it will start reporting all airplane noise complaints that it receives. The data has been available since the beginning of this year and is reported monthly on their indicators page.

Effects of plain noise

Based on the distribution of complaints by postal codes, potentially a total of 1,594,171 residents of the Montreal Metropolitan Community, including Laval, are affected by airplane noise, says Mavridis.

The group plans to publish an annual report by the end of February that will be distributed to stakeholders in an effort to encourage effective change at the ADM. According to Mavridis, the report will present more detailed results and make recommendations for improving Montreal’s aircraft noise soundscape.

Mavridis said that mapping of Montréal-dB’s complaint data confirms that the problem of airplane noise is widespread.

Support is increasing

“This small change would bring the airplane traffic to the Anjou industrial park area where, at an altitude of 5,000 ft, planes will project less noise to the ground and affect fewer residents,” Mavridis said in an interview last week with Newsfirst Multimedia.

Founded in October 2018 as Montreal Indivisible, Mavridis changed the name to Montréal-dB in September 2019 when the organization began receiving several thousand dollars in subsidies from the Borough of Ahuntsic-Cartierville and from local city councillors.

Airport noise group seeks results with improved complaints app
Montréal-dB founder Bill Mavridis is seen here with components for the new aircraft noise monitoring network he hopes to implement with the help of Montrealers impacted by plane noise above their homes. Photo: Martin C. Barry

Microphone system coming

In conjunction with the AÉROplainte app, Montréal-dB plans to deploy a network of sophisticated microphones to monitor airplane noise all over the city, in order to reduce this to raw data that could be used to formulate scientifically-founded complaints.

A self-employed investment councillor working from home since 2015, it was around then that Bill Mavridis first began to seriously notice the amount of aircraft noise being cast down upon his neighbourhood in otherwise tranquil Ahuntsic-Cartierville.

“I sat down with my son and said this is ridiculous – the problem is getting worse,” he said. “And if it was bad for me, how bad was it for the people living right under the flight paths? So I decided this was something that required some activism to get the point across.”

App forwards complaints

After examining some of the data the ADM was releasing on the number of complaints about plane noise it claimed to be receiving, Mavridis suspected they weren’t telling the whole truth, and so decided to do something about it. “We needed to find out,” he said. “And we found out by creating the app.”

Out of his own pocket, he paid an app designer $500 to handle the task. Once AÉROplainte started to be downloaded, anyone who wanted to report a plane noise incident could activate the app and fill out a complaint form which was forwarded to the ADM’s automated online complaints system.

ADM takes notice

“All of a sudden the ADM was receiving thousands and thousands of complaints,” said Mavridis, noting that the app saves a carbon copy of each complaint in Montréal-dB’s database. So after initially ignoring Montréal-dB, ADM officials finally agreed to meet and talk with Mavridis a few months after the app started flooding them with complaints.

The next step for the technically-savvy Bill Mavridis and Montréal-dB is the impending implementation of the microphone system. He located a company in California which manufactures a relatively inexpensive automated airplane noise tracking system.

Want to join the effort?

Mavridis is currently seeking out residents of Montreal areas impacted by plane noise who’d be willing to install one of the mics (which interface with a personal computer) in order to contribute to Montréal-dB’s growing database of plane noise incident data. This in turn would be used to motivate the ADM into taking real action.

Montréal-dB isn’t the only citizens advocacy group that has been pursuing the ADM to do something about the plane noise issue. However, the other, known as Les Pollués de Montréal-Trudeau, has opted to follow another route: legal action. They currently have class actions pending against the airport authority.