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Opinion: Warm weather heats up complaints about New West pile-driving noise

Open windows mean more noise for waterfront residents

As summer heat arrives and more people are opening their windows, complaints about pile-driving noise in New Westminster have ramped up.

Emails are rolling in from waterfront residents about Bosa Development’s pile driving at its Pier West development site at 660 Quayside Dr.

“Starting in March, we will begin installing foundation piles on our site. These piles provide the necessary engineered support for the 53- and 43-storey towers that will be built above,” said a notice distributed to neighbours. “This work will mean periods of increased noise levels on our site for the next six to nine months.”

Local residents are not happy.

“With covid requiring everyone to stay home and work, it's become a work and life nuance,” wrote Rukshana in an email. “With summer here, it's impossible to get through the day without windows and patio doors open, and the noise feels like it's getting louder and louder. Research shows that high-volume sounds consistently heard will affect our hearing, lead to hearing loss and it affects our mental health. I don't think it's fair that we're having to deal with this for (so long) and at no sign of completion or consideration for the New Westminster community. Not to mention that we're already dealing with covid that affects our mental health. This seems hugely irresponsible.”

Another resident said this: “It was so hot this week and I couldn’t open my windows because of the noise. I’m trying to work from home and the pounding just doesn’t stop.”

According to Bosa Development, work is completed within the city’s permitted construction hours, which is between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday to Friday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays.

“We acknowledge that the upcoming work will create more noise than the work in recent months, and we assure our neighbours that we are using the least disruptive approach to pile driving and are working within the city’s bylaws and regulations,” said Dan Diebolt, the company’s vice-president of development, in February. “Our goal is to start pouring concrete in the summer.”

In response to complaints about pile driving at downtown construction sites, city council approved changes to the hours and types of pile driving allowed in New Westminster. The changes, approved in 2018, didn’t apply to projects that had already been approved, but Bosa Development voluntarily committed to using less disruptive pile-driving techniques. This includes no use of diesel impact hammers, and piles installed by way of vibratory and hydraulic hammers to best mitigate noise.

I really feel for these residents, but I’m not sure what they expect to happen. The project has been approved and the work is needed to ensure the foundation is stable. Hopefully when this latest round of pile driving is done that will be the end of it.

  • With files from Theresa McManus

Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44.