The Township of Langley has one of the most relaxed construction noise bylaws in the Lower Mainland. Construction can occur 7 days per week, 7:00am to 10:00pm, even on statutory holidays.
Staff are now recommending Council endorse in principal a new noise bylaw to only allow construction Monday to Friday, from 7:00am to 8:00pm, Saturday from 9:00am to 5:00pm, with no more construction on Sundays or statutory holidays.
Resident complaints within Willoughby last year prompted the proposed changes, and they are overdue. The current regulations are indeed too generous. There is generally no need for construction on Sundays or holidays.
But there are two problems with the proposed changes that I hope Council will address.
There is no distinction between larger-scale commercial construction projects and a homeowner. As proposed, no one could renovate their house or build a deck on their Sundays off, if they were doing it themselves. Even though this kind of small-scale "construction" rarely makes more noise than a lawnmower does.
This is why other municipalities such as Surrey or Coquitlam distinguish "construction for profit" that involve paid constructors or multi-person crews from do-it-yourself construction, and Langley should too. The intent of the original complaints was to further restrict commercial construction, not prevent someone from improving their property on weekends.
Staff also want to create a formal process for contractors to apply for specific exemption to the new bylaw, with a new "Application for Noise Bylaw Exemption". They would then review them individually for "validity". But there is really no pressing need to create even more construction bureaucracy: staff reviews, signage updates, monitored phone numbers, notifications and so on, all in this one bylaw. It is an overreaction.
In the case of Coulter Berry, for example, after a bad stretch of cold, wet weather, we had to proceed (unplanned) to pour concrete on a Friday and then a Saturday, past 9:00pm on each day because that is when the weather would allow, and concrete was available. On another day, a pour got started a little late because the concrete arrived late, and we could not finish until 11:00pm. On another occasion we had no choice but to work on a Saturday since that was the day the weather window opened, set to close again the next day for a long stretch.
None of these instances could have been organized or known "at least 3 days prior" as the proposed bylaw requires. The proposed forms indicate a specific date for an exemption, which in some cases can't even be known until the day before. If this goes forward, a range of possible dates that might require an exemption would be more realistic,
But, instead of trying to account for every edge case in the bylaw, let's not create more unneeded bureaucracy in the first place to solve a problem that does not exists. We already have bylaw enforcement officers in place to deal with it, as we do to enforce the current rules.
Let's reduce the permitted times of commercial construction, for sure. Let's get our Sundays and holidays back, and reduce the permitted times on Saturday, while still letting our neighbour build his deck on a Sunday afternoon. Once created, red tape rarely seems to go away. On this one at least, let's keep it simple.