Case Studies

Buttonville Airport Lands Redevelopment

buttonville airport land use noise study

Location: Markham, Ontario, Canada
Developer: Cadillac Fairview Corporation
Architects: Elkus Manfredi

HGC Engineering was contracted to conduct a noise feasibility study for the proposed redevelopment of the Buttonville Airport lands in the Regional Municipality of York, Ontario. This study, based on a concept site plan, was required by the City of Markham to support a rezoning application for these lands, as part of the approvals process.

Site Description and Noise Sources
Buttonville Municipal Airport, which began as a small grass strip in 1953, grew to become the largest privately owned airport in the country, before eventually succumbing to hard times.  This prime 170-acre location, one of the largest tracts of undeveloped land in the GTA, was sold in a joint venture to respected, leading Canadian developer Cadillac Fairview in 2010 to make way for a proposed large and progressive mixed-use redevelopment.

The site is located on the south side of 16thAvenue and on the east side of Highway 404. The new Buttonville redevelopment is proposed to include seven distinct areas totaling approximately 9,000,000 square feet and feature office space, a residential component with condo’s, hotels, retail shops and restaurants.

A waterfront district will also be located to the west of the site at highway 404, which will feature a 13-acre man-made lake and commercial offices. To the south will be the 3,600,000 square foot residential district and a mixed-use commercial district. Other highlighted areas of the plan include the core centre, a convention area, as well as an office district.

The heights of the proposed buildings; residential condominiums are 3 to 4 storeys in height, high-rise buildings are 16, 20, 34 and 60 storeys in height, office buildings are 4, 7, 8, 9, 11, 27 storeys in height and hotel buildings are 3, 7 and 11 storeys in height. Many of the blocks would also likely include ground floor retail spaces.

Traffic Noise
The primary traffic noise sources are road traffic on Highway 404 and 16th Avenue dominate the acoustical environment on the existing site.

On the north side of 16th Avenue there is a funeral home, office buildings, a gas station with car wash, and the Markham Golf and Country Club beyond. To the east of the site there are several offices, businesses and schools with residences further to the east. To the south of the subject site, there are also numerous businesses

In general, sounds from commercial equipment or activities in the area were not found to be specifically discernable over the traffic sounds from 16th Avenue and Highway 404.

Stationary Sources of Noise
At the development site, stationary sources of noise may include mechanical equipment on the roof of office or commercial/retail areas, such as rooftop air-conditioners, cooling towers, exhaust fans, standby generators; and may also include on-site truck activities at loading areas of grocery stores or other large commercial facilities.

At the time of this study, the future buildings on the site were not yet designed, and the mechanical systems had not yet been developed.  As each parcel or building is developed, an acoustical consultant should review the design of the mechanical building systems and other potential sources of noise to help ensure that the noise levels emitted by that portion of the development are within the applicable criteria at any adjacent sensitive land uses, exiting or planned.

Conclusions and Recommendations
The assessment found that both daytime and night-time sound levels would exceed MOE guideline limits at the façades of the multi-story residential buildings, hotel buildings and office buildings with exposure to the major roadways. Central air conditioning as an alternative means of ventilation to open windows was therefore recommended for the majority of residential units (high-rise buildings and 4-storey condominiums), so that bedroom windows could remain closed against the traffic noise. The 3-storey condominiums would require forced air ventilation systems with ductwork sized for the future installation of central air conditioning by the occupant. Upgraded glazing constructions would also be required to provide sufficient acoustical insulation for all dwelling units with exposure to Highway 404 and 16th Avenue.  Furthermore, as required by MOE guidelines noise warning clauses would be necessary for all residential dwelling units in the development.

The project will also require detailed noise studies for each residential building or block and commercial areas  prior to building permit approval in order to refine the acoustic recommendations, in accordance with LU-131 and NPC-205.

Acoustical Engineering Services Included:

  • Conducted detailed noise studies in accordance with Ontario Ministry of the Environment procedures
  • Noise Feasibility Studies
  • Block Studies
  • Noise Traffic Studies
  • Specified noise controls
  • Developed noise control plan

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