Good news and bad news
Do to the efforts of community members and with the help of the mayor and council, The Heights building has installed additional silencer units on the roof top this summer. The bad news is that they do not appear to have helped.
Join MVCCA's Noise Mapping initiative and help us map exactly where and how loud the droning/hissing from the Heights at Mount View Download is. Download this fillable pdf to be a noise mapper--
It makes sense that those seeking to carry on business in and near neighbourhoods where people live should be subject to high standards when in comes to taking responsibility for the impact of their business decisions on the lives and well-being of near-by residents.
The Noise at The Heights at Mount View
Baptist Housing’s newest facility, The Heights at Mount View, celebrated its building dedication on Oct 28th, 2014 and its grand opening the following Saturday. At the building dedication, people were told the building came in under budget.
It turns out that the “under budget” status may have been obtained at the neighbours’ expense. During a meeting in 2014 with Baptist Housing’s Dayle Krahn, steering committee members Susan Belford and Carol Hamill learned that original plans for the building had included sound baffles around the roof top exhaust fans. As delays increased construction costs, the project’s bottom line was threatened and it was decided to save $70,000 by foregoing the rooftop baffles. Baffles cannot now be installed on the roof because of a deep coating of hardened foam insulation. The rationale given for this decision was that the cut “will not impact patient care.”
It appears that no consideration was given to the well-being of residents neighbouring the development. For 2 months prior to the building dedication, the people living on Kamloops, Homer, Carey and Rowland were subjected to noise levels above the acceptable level both day and night as the fans were run at full throttle to flush the building of toxins from building materials so that builders could meet LEED standards.
After much discussion with bylaw and inspection staff, as well as bringing Councillors into the discussion, neighbours were told the noise would abate soon; Saanich staff worked hard to bring the noise level to more acceptable levels. Overall levels were moderately lower by the time of the grand opening, but the noise continued to prevent nearby residents from enjoying their back yards, or the adjacent Mt. View Park.
In November 2014, Krahn indicated Baptist Housing will do what they can to reduce the noise by changing the type of ducting to absorb sound. This work progressed gradually and stopped after two ducts were changed, due to manufacturing delay. As of late June 2015, a few more have been added. Some neighbours report some reduction in noise level, while others do not.
The buildings’ rooftop fans are not its only source of neighbourhood noise. There is also a secondary vent on the north side of the building facing the public path that operates at substantial volume, as well as two small fans that are placed at ground level, about 3 metres from a public path. While these ground level fans do not run all the time, they are very loud when they do, and their volume is amplified by of the building’s placement. The operation of these fans is particularly bothersome to the houses next door to the Heights; the house immediately adjacent on the north side also experiences deep shading of the back yard and rear part of the house throughout the day.
This issue is important for several reasons
- It is against the law to subject people in their homes to noise above acceptable levels.
- Developers have a moral responsibility to be good neighbours to the residents whose community they are impacting. The noise they make, the light or shadow they cast and the traffic they create must be minimized according to rigorous standards.
- District of Saanich Council and Staff have a direct responsibility for ensuring the well-being of the residents they serve. This means that they must protect residents from bad neighbour development plans. It may be useful for Saanich to:
Adopt a by-law or amendment ensuring that from this point forward, following the issuing of a building permit, it will not be permissible to alter building plans in a way that could negatively impact the well-being of neighbouring residents without explicit approval of those residents.
Thanks to Anne-Marie Deryaw, Heather Davies, Carol Hamill and Chelsea Garside for their work on this issue.