Residents raise voices for noise bylaw in West Saanich

Proposed bylaw amendment for unlicensed ‘rock quarry’ in West Saanich

This story has been amended to remove a factual error that appears in the Saanich News Feb. 26 print edition. The Saanich News regrets the error and will include a correction in the March 2 issue.

Saanich residents were heard loud and clear Monday, as more than 60 of them filled council chambers to voice their support for an amendment to the district’s noise bylaw.

At Monday’s meeting, council presented a revision which will restrict noise caused by excavation work that was previously exempt from the bylaw. Many of the residents who turned out to show their support live in West Saanich along Interurban Road, where they’ve endured three years of noise of a pneumatic hammer crushing rock at 330 Hector Road.

Margot Tubman, who runs a business out of her nearby Hector Road home, said residents were patient when the noise first started, but as the work drew on over the years, it negatively affected their health and well-being.

“It has interfered profoundly with the quality and enjoyment of our neighbourhood,” she told council. “It’s difficult for us to use our deck, outdoor activities are curtailed when we have visitors or friends over, and people who would normally be gardening in rural residential Saanich are diminishing the amount of time they spend in their gardens.”

Speaking on behalf of a large group of neighbours affected by the noise, Tubman said 21 different households had written letters to the district over the past few years about the decibel levels. She said the vibration caused by a pneumatic hammer breaking rocks “travels through walls” and that some of her neighbours have experienced headaches and emotional distress as a result.

“We keep our windows closed to reduce the impact of the noise,” she said.

Thomas Broeren, who also lives on Hector Road, said the amendment is needed to ensure that Saanich residents can experience a positive quality of life.

“We believe it’s essential to the quiet, peaceful enjoyment of our neighbourhood, and every other neighbourhood in Saanich, because this could happen to anybody,” he said.

One resident asked her neighbours to stand up if they had been impacted by the noise from 330 Hector Road. Nearly everyone in council chambers got on their feet.

Coun. Vic Derman said he regretted that residents of the area have had to endure the noise, adding the district appeared to have a “loophole” in the bylaw.

“We all cherish the right to enjoy the property that we own, and we on this council try to respect the rights of the individual property owner,” said Derman. “What we have here is an example of why a significant part of what any council does is to actually restrict, to some degree, the rights on property.”

Coun. Judy Brownoff echoed Derman’s sentiment, saying she can’t imagine living with such noise for up to 14 hours per day.

“I heard (the noise) from one of the residents who phoned me from inside her house with all the doors and windows closed,” said Brownoff. “I can’t imagine that we would allow this from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.”

Coun. Fred Haynes commended the neighbours for their patience in putting up with the noise.

“You’ve put up with an intolerable situation for three years, you’ve not taken things into your own hands, you’ve tried to reach out to council and our bylaw officers, and you’ve gone through due process,” he said.

Following council’s comments, they unanimously gave the bylaw third reading, with Mayor Richard Atwell clarifying that the amendment will not take effect until council gives it final reading at a future date.

jacob.zinn@saanichnews.com

 

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