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Looking for peace and quiet

Neighbours Felix Munz, Henry Streicher and Jim Mundt take issue with some of the practices at the regional works yard behind their Heidelberg homes. [Steve Kannon]

The noise complaints of a group of Heidelberg residents whose properties back onto a Region of Waterloo works yard have so far fallen on deaf ears, they say.

In the past, talking with the site supervisor used to suffice to resolve issues of excessive revving of trucks and use of back-up beepers, the residents are no longer getting a response from that quarter, said Jim Mundt, whose Arthur Road home backs onto the facility.

A retired truck driver and instructor, he said he routinely sees questionable practices carried out on the site, including excessive idling, often for more than an hour at a time, and inefficient movements around the yard, particularly when it comes to backing up and activating high-pitched beepers.

“They don’t have to be reversing all the time,” he said, noting the issues at the yard are a fairly recent resurgence.

Mundt has lived in his home for more than 40 years, and has seen the practices shift over that time. In the past, complaints were typically addressed in short order.

“It was just consideration, common courtesy.”

In recent years, however, that’s no longer the case, some of his neighbours agree.

“We’re not asking for the world. We’re not asking them to move their yard or to stop running their trucks … only to change their behaviour,” said Felix Munz, who says the back-up beepers and lights are particularly problematic when there are crews dealing with snow-clearing operations.

Henry Streicher, whose yard backs onto the area of the site where the diesel pumps are located, says the trucks are often left running, lights on, while refueling.

“Isn’t that a problem that they should be looking at? Doesn’t the region have rules about that?” asked Mundt. “It’s an issue that should be addressed, and the region should be taking responsibility for it.”

Mundt said he’s complained about the issues to regional employees, Wellesley Mayor Joe Nowak and even MPP Mike Harris’ office.

For its part, the region says it has not received any formal complaint on which to act.

I am not aware of any concerns raised recently by adjacent residents. When we receive concerns we will respond to them appropriately,” said director of transportation Steve van De Keere in an email.

“Region staff do their best to address all public concerns. That approach is inherent in the region’s mission statement and corporate values.”

But having talked with Mundt, Emil Marion, the region’s manager of transportation operations, said the message has been heard.

“Keeping in mind this is a public works yard in a now-built-up area, there are some things we have tried to do to minimize noise over the years, however we cannot eliminate it,” he said. “ There is a newer staff up there so we have reminded them of the noise concerns and are trialing a new back up alarm system on equipment to eliminate the loud beeping, which can be annoying.”

The public works yard and its salt dome is the base for five snowplow routes, hosting five trucks, a grader, a sweeper, loader, and misc number of smaller pieces of equipment and vehicles at any one time, said Marion.

“There is typically up to 20ish people assigned to that yard, however these people are spread out among two different shifts throughout the winter. At any given time, there could be approximately 10 people there for each shift through the winter but that number can vary,” he said in an email. “Summertime numbers can vary, but I would suggest up to 10-20 people could be working out of that yard depending on the various operations.”

The facility predates the adjacent subdivision, a fact the neighbours acknowledge but dismiss as an excuse for the current complaints.

“It hasn’t always been a problem,” said Mundt of the yard’s issues, noting something has changed only in recent years.

He said that the yard was already in place doesn’t mean residents simply have to put up with anything that happens at the site.

“We’ve tolerated it long enough,” he said.

“It’s not that we’re after anything unreasonable – the yards were here before we moved in. We’re just looking for simple solutions that would cut down on noise,” added Munz.

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