No, not exactly. People’s backyards inside the city aren’t more than 150 feet deep…
Clearly, there are no vast, uninhabited areas running between downtown and Lincoln Fields. Inevitably, any surface train will run near some people’s homes or “backyards.”
Accepting that, then the more meaningful questions are: 1) how close, and 2) how many people’s homes?
Let’s compare the effect on people’s homes for a route running through the Richmond-Byron neighbourhood on the southern two lanes of Richmond Rd and on the Byron Linear Park – this is the City’s current top-ranked option – to the effect of the same stretch of the Ottawa River Parkway and of Carling Ave. A distance of approximately 45-50m (150-165 feet) is used as the benchmark for examining the number of homes affected by potential trains. This distance is used for the benchmark to compare the 3 types of routes because using a smaller distance would show essentially zero impact to homes on the Ottawa River Park route. Note also that this analysis does not use property lines, but rather the actual buildings where people live for two reasons: 1) it is the buildings and the people in them, not the land, that will be affected by noise and vibrations; and 2) property lines cannot be reliably judged from satellite imagery but buildings can.
On a Richmond-Byron route, there would be 158 single family dwellings (detached, semi-detached, or town homes) and 23 large buildings (apartment-style) directly impacted.
On the corresponding section of Carling, there would be 46 single family dwellings and 29 large buildings directly impacted.
Along the Ottawa River Parkway route, there would be 15 single family dwellings and 2 large buildings directly impacted.
Though a 45-50m benchmark was necessary to provide a meaningful comparison to the Ottawa River Parkway Route, shorter distances raise the stakes considerably for residents. The closest single family dwelling (or large building) to the proposed Ottawa River Parkway routes would fall approximately 40m away from the trains. 25m is a meaningful distance as academic studies on rail vibration impact on people suggest this is a significant threshold: at distances of greater than 25m, complaints about noise an vibration begin to drop sharply; whereas at 25m or less, complaints are frequent and serious. The closest single family dwellings on the corresponding section of the Carling route would be approximately 20-25m from the trains, with half of the 46 (24) falling within this closer range. On the Richmond-Byron route, there would be 28 single family dwellings only 10-13m from the trains. The shorter the distance, the greater the impact. If the benchmark distance were expanded beyond the 50m range, generally the number of homes impacted increases the most on the Richmond-Byron route; it grows least on the Ottawa River Parkway.
No option puts trains so close or in so many backyards as the Richmond-Byron options. Against any sort of object “backyards” test, the Richmond-Byron routes are clearly the least reasonable options.
Either of the other route options would be smarter. One final footnote – in most cases for the Richmond-Byron route, the train would actually run through hundreds of people’s front yards, not backyards.