The sound of Peter-McGill by Martin Paraire

The sound of Peter-McGill

by Martin Paraire

This piece was submitted to the Citizen Journal project of the Peter-McGill Community Council. Please note that the opinions expressed in these articles do not necessarily reflect those of our organization. This project aims to create space for the voices of residents, students and friends of the neighbourhood through articles, photos, videos, and podcasts in any language. Are you interested in contributing? Contact us at benevolat@petermcgill.org!

For a short time, try to visualize the sounds of Montreal and, more precisely, Peter-McGill districts’. The neighbourhood is dense and busy; one imagines traffic jams as it is lecture time for students, and office goers must reach the office on time. Traffic and vehicles blowing their horns, motors humming through avenues are so intense that it deafens the ears, especially on dense district segments. Sometimes you might imagine what shapes they can take: irregular and spiky forms, following the pace of life of city-dwellers, or more surprisingly flat and tranquil? What if you could see the sound, capture it on paper? What would it look like, and what would it tell us, for our enjoyment of life and well-being of inhabitants in the neighbourhood?

Few samples were taken in the neighbourhood. Using sound’s intensity and frequency as the describing metrics, sound flows on specific district segments and locations have been revealed physically.

The first was captured on Sherbrooke Avenue, starting from the Roddick portal, with un-sequenced capture until Guy Street. The sound pattern shows what would be expected from such a busy segment of the district, with yet surprising patterns: Most of the green segments, that is, sounds taken from Roddick portal to Stanley Street, encompass mostly vehicles screeching while bicyclists whiz by. There are even spikes shown throughout the journey, signifying excessive sounds, notably at traffic stops. Safe havens are localizable on the segment, McGill lawns and the Museum of Fines Arts.

Next, this graphic should help envision Guy Street, near Concordia University and neighbouring Peel Street. Again, a similar intensity of sounds is found here to those found on Sherbrooke Street, with differences in the origins of sounds. Although most sounds captured within the segment are primarily from vehicular sources (car, sirens), a significant part of sounds taken also encompass those from construction and public works origin, in greater density that could find on Sherbrooke Street. Notably, one surge was observed near construction works on the bassin du Havre, in which the prolonged effect could cause significant harm to inhabitants established nearby.

For this final capture, we ascend towards the Mont-Royal, as the nature of the sound starts to diversify, with a mix of human and nature noises. Most peculiar, the slope of the mount features a complex jumble of nature, traffic, and human sounds. The neighbourhood parks and bars imbue the area with a liveliness, yet intense sounds still being captured in the area. However, although we could imagine the Mont-Royal as a quiet haven in the city, metrics reveal that the Mont-Royal still harbours high-intensity sounds, sometimes equalling those found in the rest of the neighbourhood.

Henceforth, the aggregation of metrics reveals intriguing trends for the quality of life of Peter Mcgill denizens. Most of the district’s sounds comprise high-pitched, high-intensity sound, which sometimes excels at tolerable boundaries that the residents must face all day long, with no decreasing factors or legislation on the horizon. Furthermore, notably within the city center, most sounds comprise vehicular and construction.

Subsequently, informed that those kinds of noise are an integral part of life in the city, having so few spaces with low-intensity sound could endanger enjoyment and life quality in the neighbourhood. These factors would be the basis to give momentum for mobilization on vehicular and construction legislation to ensure the well-being of all habitants of the Peter-McGill district.