Companies doing noisy work on Sundays in Fort St. John may have to tell neighbours about their activities, if a proposed bylaw change goes through.
On Monday, city council went through the first three readings of a new noise regulation bylaw. It must still be formally adopted at a later date.
Currently, developers must gain a permit to work on Sundays. However, the current bylaw does not require them to contact nearby residents when they receive one. The company would have to tell people up to 100 metres around the work site three days before the work starts by hand-delivering notices to their homes.
Ken Rogers, the city’s director of development services, said that while they could have the option to not allow developers to work Sundays after an assessment of inappropriate noise, he “wouldn’t put the developer or builder in a situation where weekly delivery would be required” if the company had to work multiple Sundays.
The changes would also mean higher fees for companies who break these rules. Under the old rules, contractors who break these rules would be fined $100. Under the new rule, companies would be fined $100 the first time, followed by $250 the next and $500 the time after that.
“I think where some of the complaints are coming [to the city] from is the fact that are the residents aren’t notified that [a contractor] is going to do work on a Sunday, whereas if they had advance noticed, it would alleviate some of those complaints,” said Janet Prestley, director of legislative and assembly services.
City Manager Dianne Hunter also said that Sundays were an area “of particular concern” for noise complaints to the city. Mayor Lori Ackerman questioned these changes.
“I think if someone showed up on my place and said ‘We are going to do construction on Sunday, whether you like it or not,’ I’d be a bit more crankier than just waking up to a hammer,” said Ackerman.
The move was also questioned by at least one person involved in construction.
Myron Dirks, the project manager for Peace Enterprises, said that while his company doesn’t typically work on Sundays, there are situations where they need to do so, given the weather of the Peace Region and the short construction season.
“The feedback I'm getting from a lot of the guys is that when the weather’s good, they gotta get it,” he said. “On Sundays, when the weather's nice, they’re out there doing the work that they may not be able to do during the week … in some cases people just don’t want to see any work happen on Sundays.”
For Dirks, it would be better if the city could arrange a time for people to work on Sundays, such as between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Jim Rogers, the city’s director of facilities and protective services, said that in coming up with the bylaw changes, they were attempting to make the real complaints they receive “more manageable.”
In the end, council decided to pass the bylaw, as long as city staff agreed to get input from Fort St. John residents and local developers.