Centretown Ottawa – Construction Noise Complaints

Recent construction activities at a parking garage in Centertown in Ottawa are causing noise complaints from the next door neighbours.

Since construction activities are usually temporary, they are not subject to the same noise limits as a normally operating business would. The noise limit during construction isn’t stated but they must stay within worker health and safety limits and thus provide hearing protection for their workers. Any loud areas should be signed and entry barred from coming too close to the construction.

Here’s what the City of Ottawa’s Noise By-law 2004-253 says in regards to Construction Noise:

CONSTRUCTION
7. (1) No person shall, between 2200 hours of one day and 0700 hours of the next day operate or cause to be operated, any construction vehicle or construction equipment in connection with the construction of any building or structure, highway, motor car, steam boiler or other engine or machine.
(2) Despite subsection (1), no person shall operate or cause to be operated any construction vehicle or construction equipment before 0900 hours on any Sunday or statutory or public holiday.

So it seems as if the company is staying within the law – they cease construction activities by 10pm. As far as the bylaw goes, there are exemptions allowable, provided they applied for them:

EXEMPTION – CONSTRUCTION EQUIPMENT
23. (1) The Director of By-law Services is delegated the authority to grant an exemption to subsection 7(1) for construction equipment subject to the following conditions:

  1. the use of construction equipment shall not create noise likely to cause a nuisance or disturb the inhabitants or exceed 90 dBA when measured at the point of reception,
  2. the use of the construction equipment shall not continue for more than eight (8) hours on any one day,
  3. the duration of the exemption requested shall not exceed eleven (11) calendar days in length, and
  4. the affected Ward Councillor or Ward Councillors shall be in agreement with granting the exemption.
(2) An application for exemption from the provisions of the noise by-law for construction equipment shall be made in writing to the Director of By-law Services at least sixty (60) days prior to the commencement of the use of the construction equipment for which the exemption is sought and shall include the following:

  1. the name and address of the applicant,
  2. the name and address of the business represented by the applicant, if applicable,
  3. the source of the sound or vibration in respect of which the exemption is sought,
  4. the provision of this by-law from which the exemption is sought,
  5. the date and time of commencement of the construction for which the exemption is sought,
  6. the time of conclusion for each day for the use of the construction equipment for which the exemption is sought,
  7. the duration of the use of the construction equipment for which the exemption is sought,
  8. the location of the construction for which the exemption is sought,
  9. rationale for granting an exemption,
  10. the name of the contact person or persons who will be supervising the use of the construction equipment, and
  11. payment of the application fee as described on Schedule “A”.
(3) The Director of By-law Services may require the applicant to provide documentation confirming that notification of the use of construction equipment has been given to the affected parties including but not limited to community associations, business improvement areas and adjacent residents and businesses.
(4) Where the Director of By-law Services requires monitoring of sound levels resulting from the construction, the monitoring shall be conducted at the applicant’s expense as outlined in Schedule “A” attached hereto.

There are some ways of reducing the noise, such as putting up temporary noise barriers. Plywood sheets, while cheap and easy to put up don’t quite cut it since they have a low transmission loss (allowing lots of noise to pass through it), but noise blankets (such as these) are typically an affordable solution over something more permanent like a metal or concrete wall system.

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