Construction noise takes its toll on housebound New West residents

Construction noise is making for long days for folks who are housebound during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Several downtown residents have contacted the Record in recent weeks to express concerns about the stress of construction noise, including pile driving, while in isolation due to the global health crisis.

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“Some of my neighbours are unemployed now and some of them are working from home, but it seems this company couldn't care less,” wrote one resident in an email to the Record. “We get to watch them continue their work as if nothing is happening and are getting only three to four hours of silence a day before bed, only to start the nightmare all over again the next day.”

After being in tears on numerous occasions because of the incessant construction noise, one downtown resident purchased special headphones – but found even they couldn’t eliminate the noise of pile driving. Some residents would like construction crews to stop working by 5 p.m. to give them some relief.

“Can quiet hours please be extended while we are all isolated at home?” said one downtown resident on Twitter.

Emilie Adin, the city’s director of development services, said the city has received four bylaw complaints since mid-March in relation to construction noise occurring during permitted hours.   

“We empathize with people who are feeling impacted by the construction noise,” she said in an email to the Record. “We understand the effect on people’s ability to work productively at home. Many residents are also spending more time in their homes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s a really tough time, and construction noise can add to the stress.”

Adin said it’s important to note that the province has listed construction as an essential service.

“Development is identified as an important component of economic recovery.  Municipalities are being encouraged by the development industry to consider allowing longer construction hours in order to facilitate physical distancing of construction crews and individual workers,” she said. “The City of Coquitlam, for example, has recently extended permitted hours for construction noise.  The City of New Westminster, on the other hand, has not extended permitted construction hours.”

 On the occasions in the past month when the city has received a complaint, Adin said staff has approached developers and asked them to voluntarily reduce their hours of construction in order to mitigate the impacts of these activities on their residential neighbours. 

“This has met with some good success.  Most developers have been very cooperative,” she said. “We will continue to monitor this situation, and to respond with empathy to any calls from the public.”

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