COVID-19 requires Sunday work so New West housing project can stay on schedule

Work on a modular housing project in Queensborough will take place seven days a week because of a shortage of construction workers due to COVID-19.

At an April 6 meeting, city council granted an exemption to the city’s construction noise bylaw to ATCO Structure and Logistics, which is working on the project at 838 Ewen Ave. The noise exemption will allow work to be done on the site on Sundays from April 19 to July 20, so the project can remain on schedule while faced with reduced staffing levels due to COVID-19 pandemic staffing restrictions.

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Approved in 2018, the project involves the construction of a 44-unit supportive housing development for women who have experienced homelessness or are at-risk of homelessness. The Elizabeth Fry Society of Greater Vancouver will manage the facility, which will have 24/7 staffing.

According to a staff report, the construction work to be done on Sundays won’t include the use of heavy equipment outdoors, and will primarily consist of interior work, such as framing, dry walling, installation of flooring and painting.

“It is expected to generate low to moderation noise, and in this COVID emergency there is considerable regional benefits to assist BC Housing to advance this supportive housing project that will provide critical supports to vulnerable people,” said the report. “Equipment that will be used includes regular construction equipment primarily for the purpose of electrical, plumbing, dry walling and interior painting work at the site. No heavy machinery will be used.”

The City of New Westminster provided the land for the project, which is being funded by the province through its Rapid Response to Homelessness Program. BC Housing will be notifying local residents, including those of nearby single-family homes and two strata buildings, of the Sunday construction work.

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