When Tammy Parsons awoke Thursday to find she had no running water in her downtown Qualicum Beach apartment, she didn’t realize that would actually be good news.
But a failed water line valve that shut down her block on Memorial Avenue allowed construction work that had kept her awake the previous two nights to take place while she was up and about.
“The noise was horrendous,” Parsons said of overnight construction that began Tuesday night as the Town of Qualicum Beach entered the final phase of its water system upgrade project. “That first night they were literally sawing the street open. That’s like nails on a blackboard, times a hundred.”
“I was up all night, as was the other lady who lives in my building.”
Bob Weir, director of engineering and utilities for the town, said he did receive a call from a resident and said he took full responsibility for directing the construction work to take place between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. for approximately two weeks.
“It’s something we have done in the past,” Weir said of the overnight work “All of our downtown beautification work was done at nighttime by choice, to create less disruption to businesses and a much lower volume of traffic to be diverted and detoured.”
As it turned out, that traffic diversion was required for most of the day Thursday after an older valve failed and flooded the project as crews working overnight attempted to raise the new water main line. The incident left a stretch of the downtown core without water and closed Memorial Avenue between Fir Street and Second Avenue as workers repaired the breach.
Construction crews work to repair and relocate the water main at the corner of Memorial Avenue and Fir Street in downtown Qualicum Beach Thursday morning. — Image credit: J.R. Rardon/PQB NEWS
Copcan Civil Ltd., the contractor performing the work, took advantage of the forced street closure to perform the asphalt sawing that had been keeping Parsons awake the previous two nights.
“It is relentless,” construction technologist Tim Chapman admitted of the slow-moving saw’s volume. “Hopefully we can finish this and it will be much quieter for the residents at night.”
Parsons, looking out her dining room window as the saw sliced through the road directly below, said she appreciated the gesture. But she remained upset about the town’s failure to notify residents in advance of the night work.
“Apparently the merchants were aware of everything that was going to happen,” she said. “But as a tenant downtown I had no idea this was going to go on all night, every night, for two weeks. The first notice I saw was on the town website, on the day the work started.”
Weir admitted the decision to perform construction at night was driven by wishes of merchants who make up the bulk of the downtown tenants. But he admitted communication to residents broke down in the days leading up to the start of the work.
“We recognize we do have some residents living in the downtown core, and unfortunately it turns out this did happen with quite a short notification,” said Weir. “We created a printed notification for the contractor to distribute, and the contractor may not have been completely consistent in where and when they shared the information.”
For updated construction information, visit the town’s website at qualicumbeach.com.