A tale of two New Westminster noise complaints

Chris Campbell

An interesting social experiment was played out recently on the Facebook page of the New Westminster Record.

We posted two letters to the editor on our page, both dealing with noise complaints.

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One resident was upset about train noise from the rail yard at the waterfront.

Another resident was upset about the noise from pile driving connected to Bosa Development’s Pier West project.

One letter garnered sympathy, the other did not – at all.

Guess which one drew the least amount of sympathy?

Yep, the letter about the train noise. People responded that the trains were there first and people shouldn’t be surprised that they are noisy.

That is technically accurate, but seems a little simplistic and cold-hearted. For one things, people who have written to the Record about train noise say they understand that they moved next to it and that noise is going to happen. But they also say that the noise has gotten worse because the trains are left idling for excessive amounts of time. Many of the letters to the editor say that all these residents want is a reduction in the amount of noisy idling that goes on.

That seems like a reasonable request, but commenters are having none of it. Most of the responses have been mocking and lacking in any kind of empathy.

By contrast, people’s complaints about pile-driving noise have been met with great sympathy from Record readers.

Those who live near the Pier West project are fed up with the constant banging as Bosa builds an in-water perimeter shoring wall on its development site at 660 Quayside Dr.

New Westminster council recently extended the hours that Bosa is allowed to work as a way to speed up the pile driving.

The city’s construction noise bylaws restricts construction activities that may create noise and negatively impact the community to be done between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Saturdays. On Monday, city council granted Bosa an exemption from the construction noise bylaw, which will allow work to be done between 8:01 and 11 p.m. Monday to Friday and 6:01 and 8 p.m. on Saturdays until April 13.

This exemption to the city’s construction noise bylaw will allow Bosa to do pile driving using the vibratory hammering system and preparation work along the riverfront – but it won’t allow the use of the noisier type of pile driving – impact pile driving –  after 8 p.m. on weekdays and 6 p.m. on Saturdays.

The city has received complaints from downtown residents about noise and vibration from the diesel-impact pile driving, light intrusion and construction work being done outside permitted hours. The city has issued the company with nine bylaw offence notices for work done in violation of city bylaws – five for working outside permitted hours and four for light intrusion.

Hopefully the noisiest work will be over soon at Pier West. As for people who live near the railyard, they seem to be out of luck - and sympathy from the public.

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