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Whig Standard October 4 2007

Block D developer gets go-ahead for night shift; Council extends construction hours to 11 p.m.

By Jordan Press

Work on Block D will be exempt from staying quiet later into the night, despite objections from residents.

Developer Homestead Land Holdings asked the city to allow it to work until 11 p.m. during the week on the construction of a 15-storey condominium building.

Under the city's noise bylaw, work must cease by 7 p.m. unless council decided to waive the rule.

That's what they did Tuesday night, after noting objections of residents and scolding the developer for what some councillors considered poor planning.

"It is poor planning on the part of the contractor," said Councillor Bill Glover, whose district includes Block D.

Homestead will now be able to finish concrete pouring later in the night. As the seasons change and the temperature drops, it will take longer for the concrete to set and increase the time it takes to put finishes on it, city staff wrote in a report to council this week.

After publicizing the proposed exemption, residents sent in their objections to the idea. Some wanted to see the hours cut shorter, others didn't want to see it granted.

"The objections received from neighbourhood residents and business owners are quite understandable," staff wrote. "This area has been subjected to construction-related noise for many months as Block D has been built over successive phases of development. This is an unavoidable reality that most residents have come to accept within the limits set out in our noise control bylaw."

The site already has a 17-storey apartment building. It will be joined by the condominium and two other towers on the waterfront property on Ontario Street.

A Marriott hotel on the property will stand 10 storeys tall and have space for 142 units. In the condominium tower, the ground floor will house businesses while the 14 floors above it will be residential. The building will have 130 rental units to go along with 142 rental units in its sister building the Locomotive Works, which was the first phase of the project, and the 91 available units in the second condominium building known as the Royal George.

Homestead had asked for the same exemption on the Royal George and received it.

As in this case, residents objected to noise exemption. However, staff said the city didn't receive any complaints about work when it had started.

The exemption this time allows work to take place until 11 p.m. - except on Sundays, statutory holidays and from Dec. 24 until Dec. 31 - until Feb. 29. Staff noted in their report that the work will "only be necessary for one to two days a week."

Glover, who voted against the exemption, said he didn't want to see developers coming to the city for noise exemption requests because they hadn't planned their work properly.

Councillor Leonore Foster suggested work be allowed to go until 9:30 p.m. based on objections the city received. Her proposal died on the council floor.

Councillor Ed Smith said he didn't see anything that should prevent Homestead from receiving the exemption. He added that the company has made several donations to local projects and is a supporter of the city. Approving the exemption would send a message to the company and to other developers, Smith said.

"One of the things we have a reputation for in this city is not being very business-friendly," he said.

Deputy Mayor Joyce MacLeod-Kane said the drop in the number of complaints may be the result of residents having grown tired of complaining and feeling they aren't being listened to.

Mayor Harvey Rosen said the amount of noise the machines will generate will be minimal.

"The request for the extension ... I don't believe was made haphazardly," Rosen said. Rosen voted for the extension to 11 p.m. and said he didn't think going until 9:30 p.m. was a good idea.

"I think we ought to have a little more faith in our staff," he said.

Homestead, staff said, would be available to answer neighbourhood concerns over construction. The phone number is 613-546-0584.