File photo White Rock’s Oceana PARC development.

White Rock construction noise riles uptown neighbours

City maintains it is discussing concerns with developers and contractors, enforcing fines

An uptown White Rock resident is seeing red over construction work that he says is routinely going outside the times specified in city rules.

Terry Alcorn, a resident of White Rock Square 1 at Foster Street and Russell Avenue, told Peace Arch News he believes noise-bylaw regulations are being deliberately flouted by construction companies working uptown.

While city officials insist that bylaws are being enforced and that action is being taken, Alford said calling the city’s bylaw department to complain has provided scant comfort.

“I was told that they feel their hands are tied – that project managers tell enforcement officers ‘go ahead and fine us, we’ll consider it a cost of doing business,’” he said. “Holy smoke, that blows me away.”

The city noise bylaw states that construction and other work, reconstruction, alteration or repair to buildings, excavation and land clearing and operation of machinery, power equipment, construction equipment or engines in a manner that is likely to disturb the peace and “convenience of individuals or the public” is not permitted before 7:30 a.m. or after 7 p.m. on weekdays, or before 9 a.m. or after 6 p.m. on weekends.

Yet on Wednesday, Aug. 8, Alcorn said, work at the Oceana PARC development between Johnston Road and George Street (the former Penguin Meats site) started at 6:45 a.m. and didn’t finish until 8:50 p.m.

Alcorn said the project manager told him that work went so late in that instance because a crane broke down.

“I wonder if it had anything to do with there having been a long weekend?” he said.

City communications manager Farnaz Farrokhi told PAN by email Wednesday that “bylaw enforcement has responded to complaints received regarding … construction activity for the Oceana PARC project.”

“The responses have included enforcement of the city’s noise control bylaw and fines,” she said.

Farrokhi noted the city “will continue to monitor this matter and take necessary enforcement action.”

Meanwhile, Alcorn said he is not alone in his concern. Many neighbours share his frustration, he said – and his feeling that such incidents are far from isolated. And they’re still smarting from the city’s work to clear cherry trees on Johnston Road, he said, which began early in the morning on a weekend in February (city officials have stated this was a safety measure and that such city work is exempt from the noise bylaw).

He also said that there is a perception that the multiple projects in the area – including the new phase of the Miramar Village development at Thrift and Johnston – are competitively pushing the envelope on work start times, resulting in an incremental creep earlier.

“At Thrift and Johnston the other day they started swinging their (crane) boom at 7:25 a.m. That’s only five minutes ahead of the bylaw, but what happens if they decide to start at 20 after? Does that mean (Oceana PARC) starts at 7 a.m.?”

Alcorn said there is not significant discouragement for construction-company infractions in the city bylaw.

“When bylaw enforcement tells you that fines cap out at $1,000 – what’s that to a big company?” Alcorn asked.

“These bylaws are for people in houses who are going to be doing whatever little alterations or reconstruction they’re doing.”

Alford said he believes the sour taste left by construction procedures will have a backlash against their eventual occupants – particularly commercial tenants.

“They come in and turn up their noses to our bylaws,” he said.

“Then we’re expected to patronize the buildings that have given us grief? Whatever commercial is going in there will never ever see a dollar of mine – and how fair is that to them?

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