Karen Evers has been forced to wear headphones all day in her North Cowichan home to block out the intrusive noise from a construction site nearby.
She said that when she and her husband John bought their property on Nevilane Drive three years ago in what was a new and quiet residential neighbourhood, they had no idea that a large residential development project was planned just behind their house.
Karen said that when they were shown the property by real estate agents, they were told that there wasn’t an adequate water source for the neighbouring property to host a large development, and would likely be used to construct a golf course or something similar.
“But here we are,” she said as the loud sounds from construction equipment filled her home and yard.
“We were stunned when construction began about three months ago. We spent tens of thousands of dollars to move here from Ontario to live in a nice, quiet neighbourhood and we can’t believe this happening.”
The Municipality of North Cowichan gave the green light in April, 2018, for the Kingsview Development project.
Transtide Kingsview Development Ltd. is planning to construct up to 1,300 housing units on the side of Mount Tzouhalem, where the defunct Cliffs Over Maple Bay project was supposed to be constructed, in several phases that are expected to take decades to complete.
The construction contracting company Draycor is managing this phase of the Kingsview project.
John said the noise levels from the construction are often “outrageous”, and the noise often begins at 7 a.m. and continues all day.
“We contacted North Cowichan’s bylaw office and they said (the construction crew) can make as much noise as they want and have no decibel limits as other places have,” John said.
“Our ears are actually sore from the noise and even noise protection in our home does not help.”
Karen also said dump trucks and other vehicles from the construction site regularly speed past their home on Nevilane Street as they come and go from the work site.
She said the couple also has concerns that the construction site regularly uses copious amounts of water to keep the dust down at the site, but when they asked if they could use water to keep the dust from the site down on their property, they were told by North Cowichan officials that they must stick to the water restrictions that are currently in place.
“We pay over $6,000 in taxes a year and we have zero rights,” John said.
“We are so frustrated and have nobody to turn to. As residents we have no say.”
A statement from North Cowichan on the issues states that the municipality encourages contractors and developers to be respectful of neighbours and minimize disturbances, but noise and disruption are always to be expected when construction occurs.
The statement said that North Cowichan’s noise bylaw makes it clear that major construction like the type that is taking place near the Evers’ home is prohibited prior to 7 a.m. or after 8 p.m. on Monday to Saturday, inclusive, or prior to 9:00 a.m. or after 6:00 p.m. on Sundays “in such a manner as to disturb the quiet, peace, rest, enjoyment, comfort, or convenience of any person or persons in the neighbourhood or vicinity.”
“This means that construction between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Monday to Saturday, and 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Sundays, is occurring within the parameters of the noise bylaw,” it said.
“If a complaint is made that a contractor is not following North Cowichan’s bylaws or a contravention is observed by North Cowichan, staff will investigate to confirm whether or not an infraction has taken place and will follow up with the contractor and/or property owner if warranted.”
As for the dust, the statement acknowledges that it can be a particular nuisance for residents adjacent to construction sites, particularly during hot and dry conditions.
It said the application of water by construction companies is one of the most common and effective dust suppression techniques and is encouraged by North Cowichan as a way of reducing the impact on neighbours.
“When construction approval is issued by North Cowichan, a letter is typically sent to the contractor obligating them to provide dust control at the site and bonding is taken from the contractor to ensure that this occurs,” the statement said.
“Controlling dust is also required through worker protection legislation, which obligates contractors to protect their workers from inhalation of particulate matter.”
The statement said that North Cowichan is aware that the contractor working on this project currently has a water truck running continuously to suppress dust, as per their obligation to the municipality.
“Summer water restrictions apply to businesses and residents differently,” the statement said.
“There are good reasons for this, but residents may not agree.”
In regards to speeding vehicles from the work site, the statement from the municipality said that if residents are concerned about it, or the conduct of workers on the site, they are encouraged to convey their concerns directly to Draycor.
Project manager Darrel Murray said if speeding is an issue, the residents should call the RCMP.
“We have no control over public roads,” he said.