Monday, May 05, 2014

Oshawa residents living with airport noise are living well; Student’s study suggests residents close to airport have pricier homes, more money

 OSHAWA -- The standard of living is high for Oshawa residents most affected by noise from the Oshawa Municipal Airport, a study by a Trent University student has found.

The honors student’s study found that residents living with the most airport noise have more expensive homes than the average Oshawa resident, higher incomes, better education and are more likely to have a job.

Chris Hart is a fourth-year geography student at Trent University in Oshawa specializing in GIS, which combines computer mapping and non-geographic information. He tackled the socio-economic impact of the Oshawa airport on residents for his honours thesis.

“I’ve always kind of had an interest in urban planning and transportation,” said Mr. Hart. “I went to some of the council meetings and open houses and some of the discussions about the runway expansion a couple of years ago.”

Mr. Hart created noise contours for the airport based on flight movements and overlaid the noise contours over census blocks. He wanted to see if airport noise had a socio-economic impact.

The noise-affected area stretches north to Conlin Road, east to Wilson Road, south to King Street and west just past Thornton Road.

The results were that the socio-economic status of residents in the most intense aircraft noise zones was not only the highest among the areas impacted by airport noise, but also higher than the Oshawa-wide average.

“Aircraft noise does not appear to be having a deteriorating impact on the standard of living,” said Mr. Hart.

In the highest noise area, located north of Rossland Road, west of Simcoe Street and east of Stevenson Road, the average home value is $257,000, while the average home in Oshawa is worth $230,000. Average home values ranged from $217,000 to $235,000 in the other noise-impacted areas.

The average family income in the highest noise area is $83,000 compared to the City-average of $71,000. The study also found that the area with the highest noise impact had the highest employment rate among the noise-affected areas and the rate is similar to the Oshawa average. The education rate in the highest noise impact area is higher than the city average.

Mr. Hart’s study also found that 50 per cent of the land use in the noise-affected area near the airport is residential and the majority of the homes were built after the airport opened.

Only 18 per cent of the homes in the noise-affected area were built before 1946, meaning the majority were built after the airport opened in 1941. The largest proportion, 31 per cent, were built between 1946 and 1960, though just under 12 per cent were built more recently, between 1996 and 2006.

His study did not examine why the area closest to the airport has a higher standard of living.

“This was purely a statistical and geographic study, I wasn’t looking at neighbourhood opinions and why they chose to live in that area,” he said.

Story and photo:

OSHAWA -- Chris Hart is a fourth-year Trent University honors geography student who presented a paper on whether noise from the nearby airport impacts property values. April 8, 2014.