A Parksville resident has had enough of the dynamite blasting that has been occurring at the Cedar Ridge Estates housing development on Renz Road and Church Road.
Aurora Sleigh said in the last two years her family and neighbours have had to endure an “abysmal situation” due to dynamite blasting and construction noise.
“The blasting took place over the course of the entire summer and did not end until October 2016,” said Sleigh, whose house faces Renz Road across the construction site.
“We were subjected to such strong blasts that it shook our house, rattled my dishes in the cupboards and knocked down plants on window sills. The dust resulting from these blasts was so severe that our entire back yard — including all our plants, patio furniture, windows, skylights and siding — were covered in this red, sticky dirt. We were subjected to over 250 dynamite blasts! My elderly neighbour, who is German, said it reminded her of the Berlin air raids. That’s how severe they were.”
Much to the dismay of many residents, the developers, Sleigh said, informed the neighbourhood to expect more dynamite blasting this year and that construction noise would be prevalent until October from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday.
“My neighbours and I were in shock,” said Sleigh. “Surely they had blasted sufficiently the year before to complete the process, but no. To date, the blasting continues. The noise and shaking from the drilling, from the dynamite blasts, from the heavy trucks moving and beeping, the heavy machinery moving the entire day and the grinding of the rock into gravel… it is incomprehensible.”
Sleigh said it got so bad that she so desperately wanted to lay out in the middle of the road to stop the machines and noise. To date, there have been well over 500 blasts over the two summers, she added.
To make their situation known, Sleigh said she called city hall. Staff told her the construction is abiding by the rules and crews are permitted to work from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
“No one cares about our dilemma,” said Sleigh. “No one has taken into account the devastating effect that this continual and consistent barrage of noise is having on a quiet and established neighbourhood. My house is just feet away across the street from it all. I have developed allergies to the dust. I suffer from chronic headaches and now have a severe case of sciatica.”
Sleigh was able to meet Mayor Marc Lefebvre at a Thursday afternoon Coffee with Council to express her concerns and disappointment. Lefebvre, said Sleigh, was not aware of the problem and that it was the first time he has heard of it. The mayor also promised to look into the matter and, Sleigh said, he did. But the response she got from the mayor, she stressed, was frustrating and upsetting.
“It simply regurgitates what we have been told by city call officials for the past two years,” said Sleigh. “In other words, the developer/contractors are applying to the letter of existing bylaws. He (Lefebvre) completely ignored the reason for our meeting. It had nothing whatsoever to do with bylaw infractions… it had everything to do with the length and severity of the situation our enclave of homes and residents have been subjected to over two entire summers, and that the city should apply new rules to cover such a contingency for existing homeowners who are placed in situations such as ours.”
Lefebvre said in his letter to Sleigh that during the course of the project to date, the city has received 13 complaints related to the blasting. They are electronically recorded as Requests for Service and assigned to staff to ensure all inquiries are followed up on and addressed through the developer’s engineer of record.
“City staff have confirmed through the engineer of record that the blasting contractor is seismically monitoring their blasting work,” said Lefebvre. “The contractor is required to have seismometers deployed onsite to monitor every blast for maximum acceleration (vibration level). This is a requirement of their insurance company and of WorkSafe BC.”
Sleigh said just because the developers are complying with the bylaws does not mean the work is not causing residents in the area significant grief. They’ve still had to endure the noise, regardless of whether they are within the law, and it has disturbed the quiet, peace, rest, enjoyment, comfort and convenience of residents in the area, which the city bylaw was designed to uphold. They ask how can the city and the developers justify that.
“We feel insulted that our request for assistance was treated as it has been,” said Sleigh. “Cedar Ridge should actually be named Dynamite Ridge. This is a prime example of how our city offiicials kowtow to big business, regardless of the consequences to little people such as ourselves.”
The mayor told the Sleighs in a written release that, “City staff will continue to be diligent, within the limits of legislated authority, to confirm that the blasting contractor is following proper industry standards, complying with our noise bylaw, addressing public concerns, has professional oversight and are safely conducting their work within our road right-of-way (Renz Road).”