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Kelowna councillor seeking review of local construction hours

It’s no secret that construction sites can be very loud, and with more projects popping up around Kelowna, B.C., some residents feel there is no break from the noise.

Kelowna resident, Colleen Heck, lives beside an active construction site and says construction has been non-stop since the project began.

“My living room and my deck are an extension of each other during the summertime as with most people in Kelowna, we love to sit outside. But those things were shut down because of the noise because of the dust from the site,” said Heck.

“Only two days that they’ve actually stopped any construction here was on Dec. 25 and 26th.”

Heck went on to say that she is frustrated with the construction noise that she says starts early every morning and goes throughout the day.

Currently, city bylaws allow construction to happen in Kelowna between 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m., seven days a week, year-round.

“This building we have seven days a week, 24 hours a day of noise disruption. I think it’s unfair, I think that these bylaws in Kelowna need to be changed. I think these bylaws were put in place when there was a time there wasn’t a lot of construction going on,” said Heck.

“I think that we deserve to have a day off. I think that holiday should be a day off, I think Saturdays should be limited. That takes into consideration the people that live next to a construction site.”

During Monday’s council meeting, Kelowna city councillor Rick Webber put forth a notice of motion to review construction hours within the city.

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The motion was prompted following complaints from residents living beside active construction sites.

“Kelowna is unusual because as one of the fastest-growing cities in the country, we’ve spent the last year on council approving construction projects in every neighbourhood of the city, practically. Kelowna residents are probably amongst the most likely to face nearby construction projects of any Canadian there is,” said Webber.

“Construction times really affect a lot of people in Kelowna. I thought now might be a good time to review them and just see how they are and how they can fit into the neighbourhood for sure.”

The hours and number of days that construction is allowed to occur in communities differs in every municipality.

Webber plans to bring a motion forward next council meeting for council to decide whether or not staff should review Kelowana’s construction hours.

“You’re talking over 700 straight days of construction that could start at seven in the morning and end at nine at night, plus you can get permission to start some projects at three in the morning for special circumstances. It’s pretty extreme,” said Webber.

“I’m not going into this with any specific idea in mind. There are questions I have… can they take a day off on the weekend or stat holidays? But you have to leave it open for staff to have them look at what other municipalities are doing, and see what works in other communities and what options we have here.”

Canadian Homebuilders Association Central Okanagan was pretty quick to respond to the notice of motion, saying they are ‘unequivocally against the proposed review.’

“Residential construction is the number one economic driver in this region. So, the idea of shortening construction hours at the time of a housing crisis seems incredibly short-sighted when we think about the greater good,” said Canadian Homebuilders Association Central Okanagan executive director Daniel Winer.

“It also has health and safety impacts on our workers. There’s a cost piece of this, there’s a safety piece of this. There is actually even a rush hour traffic piece of this as well. We wanted to come out unequivocally against the review of this policy.”

The association does recognize that residents may be concerned about the noise, however, it says construction is necessary as the community is in a housing crisis.

“Most of the workers in this field are actually born and raised local to the Okanagan, and that’s pretty unique for any of our industries. I would say to any neighbours that are concerned with the noise that one, we hear you; two, you’re absolutely not alone. And three, this is happening across every single one of our neighborhoods,” said Winer.

“We are in a housing crisis, we need to build a lot more homes, we have produced less homes than any G7 country in the last decade and now we need to play catch up. There’s certainly empathy but we need to think about the greater good and all of the people that are moving here and what that means for our economy.”

Meanwhile, Heck hopes the bylaws can be adjusted so that she can once again enjoy her home.

“I think at the end of the day we’re just looking for some compassion, some consideration. We want the City of Kelowna, bylaw, Kelowna councillors to change the bylaw,” said Heck.

“If you’re building a construction site that magnitude of this size, you need to consider the people that live here.”

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