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Archive for March, 2013|Monthly archive page

People’s campaign begins: Transform Vancouver’s bylaws

In Uncategorized on March 10, 2013 at 9:07 am

March 9, 2013 marks Day One of a people’s campaign to transform Vancouver’s noise and building bylaws — to better protect the health, safety, and quality of life of citizens living near demolition and construction sites. We encourage neighbours near every major construction site to set up a blog to share information among neighbours, and compensate for the lack of communication and engagement from the City, property owner, and contractors. Anyone is free to copy from this site and make improvements. We also encourage inter-connection among such initiatives.

We are witnessing system failure. It is really only by working together that neighbours are able to look after the livability and quality of life in their own neighbourhoods. This case at 1401 Comox is a poster child for many flaws and biases in the current consultation, rezoning, development, and construction paradigm in Vancouver.

Vancouver’s regulations are decades out of date, and severely substandard when it comes to balancing the interests of construction companies versus the interests of residents in communities. The Westbank/Peterson/Henriquez project to build a 22-story tower at 1401 Comox, on the former site of St John’s Church, is a test case, a poster child, that will bring in some of the region’s biggest developers and most prominent architects, the top industry organization (Urban Development Institute), politicians and City staff. Legislation will be improved. Industry guidelines and company practices will have to change so that Vancouver can one day claim it is a world leader in best practices for protection of its citizens and neighbourhoods. Today, we are far from that spot.

To achieve success, the involvement of many people in communities around the city will be essential.

Stay tuned for more. See related material on CityHallWatch.

http://cityhallwatch.wordpress.com/special-topics/demolition-its-impacts-recycling-and-vancouver-building-bylaw/

Vancouver’s West End is currently undergoing a community plan, to guide development here for the next several decades. Official information is at www.vancouver.ca/westendplan. Though it has not been discussed publicly, the City reportedly has plans to add thousands of new residents here. The Downtown Eastside, Grandview-Woodland, and Marpole are undergoing community plans too. Major policy text will be nearly completed by the summer of 2013, with only minor tweaking before policies are adopted by Council in autumn 2013.

The West End has the highest population density of any neighbourhood in Vancouver.

Persons per hectare draft graph, Vancouver, 3-Mar-2013This is a mature, existing community — unlike Yaletown and Coal Harbour where massive development came to what was previously industrial land. Should Vancouver Mayor and Council introduce amendments to Vancouver bylaws to respect communities better? Is special consideration needed for densely-populated communities? Should the industry engage in dialogue with communities to develop a best-practices guide that goes beyond the minimum regulations encoded in the Noise Bylaw and Building Bylaw?

Westbank Projects Corp. is one of the most favoured developers in the Vancouver, with many major tower projects already approved, now under construction, or awaiting approval. Now in the pipeline for approval is one at 2220 Kingsway. Just approved was a precedent-setting tower in Chinatown on Main Street. One well along the way is at 1569 West 5th Avenue in Kitsilano. Oakridge Mall renovation. Telus Gardens. The B.I.G. tower being proposed for Beach and Pacific, beside an off-ramp of the Granville Bridge. More towers at 70th and Granville. Another at 1412 Howe Street. And many more. This company’s CEO, Ian Gillespie, can do better to show his ability to respect the communities that are home to his projects. His financial partner, Ben Yeung of Peterson Investment Group, and Gregory Henriquez, architect in many Westbank projects, also need to be involved in making positive change happen. As a leading developer in Vancouver and guest in so many neighbourhoods of Vancouver, naturally the firm will be proud one day to have written policies and guidelines in place making it a world leader in every aspect of neighbourhood engagement. But a lot of work remains for everyone. And only the public really has an inherent incentive to make this all happen. So let us begin.

Should City Council make future approvals conditional on better behaviour in current and future project applications? Absolutely, yes. Write your elected officials at mayorandcouncil@vancouver.ca and let them know what you think. These issues need to go to the top.

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Resources for neighbours of 1401 Comox (1061 Broughton) during construction

In Uncategorized on March 5, 2013 at 8:13 am

If you have concern about any demolition or construction impact, call the City at 311. Also, e-mail mayorandcouncil@vancouver.ca

DEMOLITION/CONSTRUCTION DISTURBANCES

  • Noise, the most common complaint, is regulated by the Noise By-law. Construction noise in any zone is limited to these hours:

7:30 am to 8 pm (Monday – Friday)
10 am to 8 pm (Saturday)
(In case you didn’t notice, that means SIX days a week.)
No construction noise is permitted on Sundays or holidays.

Permission can be granted for noise outside of these hours for special circumstances.

  • Concerns about noise? Call the Noise Hotline at 604.873.7753 (or 604.717.3321 after 5pm).

For other concerns about a construction site, file a complaint with the 311 Call Centre (604.873.7000) and ask City staff to investigate.

For general or specific questions about City Zoning or Building by-laws, call the Telephone Enquiry Centre at 604.873.7611.

  • Safety. If you observe anything at the site that concerns you about worker or public safety, contact WorkSafeBC at 604-276-3100, or e-mail ssquery@worksafebc.com.  Website is http://www.worksafebc.com/.  To inquire or report, WorkSafeBC requires the address, company and specific concern. The address here is 1401 Comox Street (and 1061 Broughton Street), Vancouver. Companies are Westbank Projects Corp. and ICON Pacific Construction Corp. The public has a role to play in watching out for any dangerous activity and can help ensure that no accidents happen by reporting anything that seems to be of concern.
  • The Occupational Health and Safety Regulation is a useful reference. For example, see Regulation 14.44 about suspended loads.14.44 Loads over work areas
    (1) If practicable, work must be arranged to prevent passing a load over any person.
    (2) A crane or hoist operator must not pass a load over a person, unless no practicable alternative exists and then only after the person has been warned of the danger by an audible alarm or other effective means.
    (3) A person working at a workplace must not stand under or pass beneath a suspended load.
    [Enacted by B.C. Reg. 320/2007, effective February 1, 2008.]

Complaints about idling vehicles (e.g., trucks waiting near a construction site) are handled by the Parking Enforcement branch. Call 311 immediately if you believe a construction vehicle is breaking a bylaw. It is illegal to idle a vehicle for more than three consecutive minutes in a 60-minute period, or while unattended and unlocked. Up to five tandem trucks related to the 1401 Comox project can often be found idling at one time — on Davie Street between Jervis and Broughton, and on Broughton, or on the lane.
Idling Bylaw informationhttp://vancouver.ca/streets-transportation/idling.aspx.

Odour concerns should be directed to Metro Vancouver’s 24 hour line at 604 436 6777. Metro Vancouver has jurisdiction over air quality.

Construction can go on at any time as long as it doesn’t generate noise. However, if noise becomes excessive, a complaint may be submitted. The info on the following page is for both citizens and construction firms: http://vancouver.ca/home-property-development/construction.aspx. Specific noise level ranges for mechanical equipment are available on this page: http://vancouver.ca/files/cov/mechanical-equipment-info-sheet.pdf.

The Noise Control Bylaw is the most comprehensive source of information on the subject: http://vancouver.ca/your-government/noise-control-bylaw.aspx

For further assistance on any topic, please contact the City of Vancouver at:

3-1-1 (within Vancouver)
604.873.7000 (outside Vancouver)

Staff can take your call from 7:00 am to 10:00 pm, 7 days/week, 365 days/year (including holidays). The City offers interpretation services in over 170 languages.

Visit the City of Vancouver’s website for further information on City services at http://vancouver.ca

CONSTRUCTION CREW PARKING NEAR SITE

Everyone is required to comply with the City’s parking regulations. Large multi-year projects bring many workers into a community. It is the property owner’s responsibility (Westbank Projects Corp. and Peterson Investment Group) to ensure that all workers and contractors comply with regulations. In some cases, they might have to secure paid parking for crews, or transport workers in by crew bus. If you believe they are violating regulations, the City at 3-1-1 to report or inquire. Commercial plates do not exempt vehicles from resident parking area restrictions. Reference: https://vancouver.ca/streets-transportation/residential-parking-permits.aspx Note that contractors are eligible to obtain a daily parking permit for $5.60 per day (https://vancouver.ca/streets-transportation/temporary-permits.aspx), but only for working on “occupied residential units,” not buildings under construction. Large property owners make big profits from development. They should not be able to pad their bottom lines by taking up parking spots from local residents and by violating regulations. As the City does not have enough staff to monitor this, it’s up to the public to report violations immediately.

CRACKS IN NEIGHBOURING BUILDINGS

Neighbours have reported cracks appearing in walls in nearby buildings, likely tracing back to earth tremors and ground vibrations caused by work at 1401 Comox. People are encouraged to document any damage with time-stamped digital photos, and to keep notes of any damage observed. Damage has also been noticed on nearby public sidewalks.

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The City of Vancouver Noise Control Bylaw has the following requirements for construction noise:

“15. No person shall, in or adjacent to residential premises, but not including a street, make or cause sound or noise resulting from construction the continuous sound level of which exceeds a rating of 85 on an approved sound meter when measured at the property line, of the parcel of land where the construction is taking place, that is nearest to the point of reception of the sound or noise.

16. No person shall cause, permit or allow construction noise that disturbs the quiet, peace, rest or enjoyment of the public, except:

(a) between the hours of 7:30 o’clock in the morning (0730 hours) to 8 o’clock in the evening (2000 hours) on any week day that is not a holiday, and between 10 o’clock in the morning (1000 hours) to 8 o’clock in the evening (2000 hours) on any Saturday that is not a holiday; and

(b) for construction on a street between the hours of 7 o’clock in the morning (0700 hours) to 8 o’clock in the evening (2000 hours) on any week day or Saturday, and between 10 o’clock in the morning (1000 hours) to 8 o’clock in the evening (2000 hours) on any Sunday or holiday.”

Here is a link to the entire Noise Control Bylaw:

http://former.vancouver.ca/bylaws/6555c.PDF

This link will give you some idea of how loud 85 Dba is:

http://www.worksafebc.com/news_room/news_releases/assets/nr_07_02_21/How_Loud_home.pdf

WorkSafeBC How Loud Is It

Complaints about construction noise are followed up on an individual basis.  If you feel that there is an activity occurring on this site which is exceeding this threshold during these hours you can file a complaint through 311 and a Property Use Inspector will attend the attend the site with a noise meter to measure the level of the noise from this activity.  When making any complaint you can request a followup call from the inspector to discuss their findings.  If there is construction noise occurring outside of the permitted hours, you should call the police non-emergency number.

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SOUND METERS

A decent sound meter costs about $75.

Here is a sound meter app you can use on an Apple product. https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/soundmeter/id287615105. $19.99 Download. Works on an iPhone and iPad. Description: SoundMeter turns your iOS device into a handheld sound level meter (SLM) with support for exponential-time-weighted sound level (Lp) and equivalent sound level (Leq) measurements with various time and frequency weightings. The built-in signal generator tool can be used for generating calibration test tones, noise, chirps, or other periodic. 

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You in the community are encouraged to ask yourselves if the above bylaws are acceptable. Are the hours acceptable? Is the 85 decibel limit acceptable? Should special zones be created in Vancouver with special rules, to respect the residents of the most densely-populated communities ?Who is responsible to consider these issues? Public servants? Elected officials? Private companies and contractors? Community groups? Individuals? How can improvements be initiated? Where will they come from?

As the West End nears the end of an official community planning process, residents of the West End may wish to push these issues onto the table. The community plan, once adopted is expected to have a life of about 30 years. If you have an opinion, write Mayor Gregor Robertson and City Council at mayorandcouncil@vancouver.ca.