As reported in The Star, the buzz of a chainsaw, the beeping of a truck in reverse, the thud of a jackhammer. All sounds that have become part of the backdrop of a growing city.
But between certain hours, the residents of Toronto are supposed to get a bylaw-mandated break, unless the city grants an exemption.
And they grant many, many exemptions.
The city is receiving — and approving — more construction noise exemptions, one of the most contested parts of the noise bylaw up for review in the spring.
In 2015, there were 132 construction noise exemption applications received and 102 granted. By 2018, that number had grown to 248 exemption applications received and 177 granted, according to numbers the city provided to the Star.
The exemptions were a hot topic at a bylaw review public consultation this week, which saw about 50 people squeezed into a meeting room at the Centre for Social Innovation Regent Park Lounge to make a little noise of their own.
At the Tuesday meeting, city staff, joined by facilitators from the private firm hired by the city to run the consultations, told the crowd thatconstruction companies send exemption requests to city councillors, who have 14 days to deny them. If they don’t respond, the application is automatically approved.
That’s something condo manager Helen Da-Ponte thinks “should be removed.”
She’s fed up with noise from construction around her building near Queen St. and University Ave. and told a facilitator in a small group breakout session that residents “complain and complain” to the city and “nobody responds.”
“It’s never being followed up. The enforcement is not there.”
Resident Nick Yak, who lives in a different part of the city, suggested flipping it so applications are denied if the councillor doesn’t respond.
“I think that makes more sense,” he said in the same small group session, adding he’s submitted many noise complaints to little effect.
The noise bylaw is clear. Construction noise can only be made between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays, and not at all on Sundays and statutory holidays. But companies can apply for exemptions to do work outside those hours.
There’s also an automatic exemption for continuous pouring of concrete, large crane work, necessary municipal work and emergency work that cannot be performed during regular business hours.
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