Vancouver House 14 hours of construction noise riles neighbour: What can be done for developers to be better neighbours?

Vancouver House, handout, PNG, in Vancouver Sun, 15-Sept-2014, 10205267

The 515-foot Vancouver House, artist’s concept, once completed. As of the spring of 2016, it is a construction site, several storeys deep.

B.I.G. architect with 1412 Howe tower (left). Massing model inserted into photo from Choklit Park (right)

B.I.G. architect with 1412 Howe tower (left). Massing model inserted into photo from Choklit Park (right)

Several days ago a CityHallWatch reader posted this comment, with regard to construction noise and disruptions on the neighbourhood from the “Vancouver House,” a 515 foot residential tower development (Westbank Projects Corp, CEO Ian Gillespie) beside the Granville Bridge.

Saturday morning March 19 the city allowed a variance so that Icon could pour concrete for 14 hours starting at 5 am. There were 16 cement trucks all running at 5 am on my block. We tested the decibel level from our condo on the 10th floor. It was over 80 decibels. There was no advance notice. No polling of the neighbourhood. They just went ahead and ruined everyone’s weekends. How the city lets them get away with it I don’t know….

Vancouver HouseThe City of Vancouver has bylaws restricting construction noise, but developers are often given special permission to work outside of the normal hours. In the case above, the City, the contractor (ICON) and/or the developer (Westbank) could have done a better job of being good neighbours. The time to start being good neighbours is now, not after construction is completed. Perhaps, in advance, they could properly inform residents for two or three blocks around, so that at least they could adjust their schedules and perhaps buy ear plugs. Are they taking steps to minimize impacts on the neighbourhood? Should City Council impose special demands on developers in major developments in residential areas to mitigate impacts? Should developers compensate the affected residents somehow? Below we offer some suggestions for advocacy by residents affected by construction projects.

Construction noise in any zone is officially limited to these hours:

  • 7:30 am to 8 pm (Mon – Fri)
  • 10 am to 8 pm (Sat)
  • No construction noise is permitted on Sundays or holidays.

With a huge amount of building demolition and construction plus roadwork around the city, the impacts on residents livability, mental and physical health can be significant. But the City is often lax in enforcing violations by major developers, so it may require persistent citizens to actually convince officials to take action. You may also consider banding together with the community to force the developer and City to create ground rules, communication channels, and maybe even a liaison committee for a major development. Download our checklist to guide citizens in evaluating and preparing for demolition/construction projects (Demolition-construction impacts, citizen appraisal form, CityHallWatch, 17-Apr-2012). Perhaps citizens need to encourage the entire industry, via their lobby organization, the Urban Development Institute, to adopt policies and guidelines to reduce impacts on neighbours.

Construction beside Granville Bridgehead (Dec 16, 2015)

Construction beside Granville Bridge ramp (December 16, 2015)

CityHallWatch encourages people to know the rules and their rights, and to actively communicate with City Hall and the developers/contractors if you have concerns. Document everything. Vancouver could make some improvements to protect the livability of people affected by demolition and construction. If you are concerned, consider doing some advocacy (e.g., see our letter to Mayor and Council in 2013).

Below are some tips and resources.



CityHallWatch has a page of information on Demolition and Construction impacts:

Vancouver House Granville Loops

3 thoughts on “Vancouver House 14 hours of construction noise riles neighbour: What can be done for developers to be better neighbours?

  1. Always forgotten in the setting of such guidelines are the needs of shift workers, who perforce need to sleep during the day and who will be disturbed even if these rules are followed. There may not be a darn thing that can be done about it, since the reality is that most people are awake during the day and vice versa, but advance notice is a good idea; indeed a minimum courtesy. But the more rules we have, the less courtesy we seem to have… because we get less practice at solving our own problems.

  2. On a recent Friday night, Icon at Westbank’s 2220 Kingsway was broadcasting the same kind of nasty noise as late at 10:00 pm. Unpleasant even from slightly downhill and three blocks away with windows shut. Daytime is one thing. This degree of neighborhood disrespect is something else.

  3. Still more rules for order and peace than the District of North Vancouver however. We would welcome disruption waiting until 530 to get started.
    Anyway, no developer is going to be a considerate neighbour or human being on their own. That’s what regulations are for. All city halls must quit taking cash to allow developers to always ruin people’s health.

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