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….
The 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.
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.
CITY OF VANCOUVER
- Noise from construction: http://vancouver.ca/home-property-development/construction.aspx
- Noise Control Bylaw 6555. Regulates noise or sound within the City of Vancouver. http://vancouver.ca/your-government/noise-control-bylaw.aspx
- Get help with noise: http://vancouver.ca/home-property-development/get-help-with-noise.aspx
- Learn the limits when making noise: http://vancouver.ca/home-property-development/noise-limits.aspx
- Demolition and construction impacts: If you live or work anywhere in Vancouver (especially these 84 addresses), you WILL be affected (April 2, 2013): https://cityhallwatch.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/demolition-construction-impacts-affect-all-act-now/
- Demolition and construction: Neighbourhood impacts, the Vancouver Building Bylaw, recycling. See our “Tips worth considering if demolition or construction is expected in your neighbourhood”: https://cityhallwatch.wordpress.com/special-topics/demolition-its-impacts-recycling-and-vancouver-building-bylaw/
CityHallWatch has a page of information on Demolition and Construction impacts: