Some people living in Town of Mount Royal, along the construction zone for the new light rail train service, received a surprise, limited-time offer last month.
NouvLR — the consortium in charge of building the train line — sent a letter to close to 60 households along the tracks, offering solutions to help drown out the sound from the trains.
They were given three options: noise cancelling headphones, noise-reduction curtains or… nothing.
"This is completely ridiculous. They're laughing at people," said Vincent Lanthier, whose home is just metres from the track, near the Canora station. He said the letter came out of nowhere.
"First it was surprise. Then it was disappointment and then we got angry. And now it's sort of laughable."
Lanthier said he felt panicked when he realized he only had days to make his decision. The letter, dated Aug. 13, asked people to make up their minds by Aug. 21.
After calling NouvLR for more information, Lanthier said the consortium quashed the deadline. But even after emailing some questions he said he still doesn't even know if the blinds are for outside or inside the home.
"It was impossible for us to do research on the information they gave us. They just gave us the colour and the material."
As it turns out, they go on the inside. Homeowners will have to install the curtains themselves.
So, why not opt for the headphones? It turns out, NouvLR is offering just two sets per household. Including himself, his partner and his two young children, there are eight ears living in Lanthier's home.
He said he chose the blinds, calling them the lesser of two evils.
"I think that that would benefit the family as a whole, hopefully, rather than just two people at once, or having children wear oversized adult headphones."
Solutions don't solve much, neighbour said
Next door, Katerina Valsamis ruled out the blinds because she's worried they'll block out the sunshine. But she's not very impressed with the alternative.
"So we have to walk around [the house] with headphones. If your husband or your kid want something from you, good luck," she said with a laugh.
Valsamis said she was stunned when she read the letter, calling the options patches, not solutions.
She also said she isn't looking forward to the months of work at the edge of her backyard.
"Maybe I'll just go on vacation for two years. I don't know.
The spokesperson for the REM project, Jean-Vincent Lacroix, said there are already a lot of noise-mitigation measures in place, such as a sound barrier wall along part of the tracks. He said the headphones and curtains are bonuses.
"We offer them and if people want to be provided with them we're going to be quick and we're going to provide them," he said.
"All the effort that we're doing from the past year it's really to ... make sure that the work being done is [as quiet] as possible."
Lacroix said the headphones should be arriving in a few days while the curtains will be available in a few weeks.
The $6.3-billion light-rail network (REM) is slated to be fully up and running by 2023.