It appears little can be done to deal with the incessant pounding noise coming from the ongoing construction at the Kingsview development site near Mount Tzouhalem.
In response to numerous complaints and concerns about the noise, North Cowichan’s manager of bylaw and licensing services Kim Ferris pointed out that the construction noise from the housing development is acceptable under the municipality’s noise bylaw.
“While the municipality is aware that the offending noise from the soil compaction work at the site is unusual for area residents, North Cowichan’s noise bylaw allows for the work to be done between 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. from Monday to Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays,” she said.
“The machine being used for this work, a rapid-impact compaction, is a quicker way to complete the compaction process. Using this machine will take approximately 3.5 months versus 7.5 months using conventional methods and machines.”
Staff said the soil-compacting work is scheduled to be completed in late October.
In a project approved by council in 2018, Transtide Kingsview Development Ltd. is in the process of constructing 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.
But the noise from the soil compaction at the site recently has been overwhelming for many of its neighbours.
One letter writer from Salish Road said the the current daily incessant noise from the pounding is very disturbing and unsettling, and asked council to limit the time frames that it is allowed.
“Anything to stop the headaches would be appreciated,” the letter writer said.
Another letter writer from Kathleen Drive, which is more than two kilometres away from the construction site, said she has not been able to be outside without feeling like she needs to wear hearing protection in her own backyard.
“I understand that construction noise happens and have lived through a lot in my 37 years of living in the area,” she said.
“People can accept normal construction noise of blasting, hammering, sawing and truck noise but this compaction noise has become an overwhelming irritation and intrusion far beyond anything I have ever experienced before and, in my opinion, it is unreasonable.”
At the council meeting on Sept. 21, Coun. Christopher Justice acknowledged that many residents are being badly impacted by the noise, and asked staff for options to limit it.
CAO Ted Swabey said it’s a difficult situation, and one that he has had to deal with himself in the neighbourhood.
“If you think the only solution is to limit the hours of compacting every day, it will only prolong the amount of time that the noise will occur,” he said.
“[The developer’s] solution was to bring in additional machines and try to get it done quicker, and maybe that has intensified the situation for residents even more. To some extent as we move into winter, it will restrict the time they will operate, unless they operate into the dark at the same hours. We can look into that and monitor it.”
Mayor Al Siebring said that if he could, he would snap his fingers and make the issue go away.
“But every one of us lives in a house in which noise was generated to build,” he said.
“Maybe the noise wasn’t to the degree that it is [in the Kingsview development] but, sadly, that’s part of this process.”
Coun. Rob Douglas asked staff if the completion date of late October for the soil compacting refers just to this phase of the housing development, and whether neighbours could expect the same level of noise when the developers begin the next phase.
“If we’re just talking about late October, I’m sure the residents could hold out until then, but if we’re talking about the noise going on for the next five to 10 years, that’s a different story,” he said.
“Staff needs to get this information from the developers.”