Roger Kemble: June 30, 2014

Raging outside my window, June 30, a jackhammer is digging into the rock to clear the way for a proposed six-story condominium about to commence construction on the north end of Chapel Street. Coming to July now it is coming on four months of unreasonable noise and evidently the city is prepared to turn a blind eye despite its toothless noise by law.

It is ridiculous digging into what appears to be impenetrable rock for a six story building sited between a seventeen story building, Seacrest, that did not blast into the rock, an eighteen story tower and a thirty story hotel proposal.

This little essay is about urban noise within the City of Nanaimo but particularly in the downtown precinct wherein the impact reverberates by virtue of closer proximities of structures.

Such is the dilemma of an inflexible by-law crafted by the sequestered MBA’s (masters of business administration) an inflexible city hall bureaucracy: it would be futile to remind such highly qualified personnel that the city is NOT a business but rather a public amenity.

Saturday morning, June 28, on a bright summer’s day and I am getting hacked to bits. That is, the jackhammer across the street is registering 86 decibels, and over, on my sound level meter ten stories above the source.

In my book The Canadian City, now available in ebook form . . .

. . . The book cites noise levels in a number of cities across the country: most busy streets and places are 60+/-dbls.

Nanaimo, summer, end of June, 2014, street level decibels read something like this:

Chapel Street construction 0800 hrs @ street level: 92 dbls+. (@ floor 10: 86+ dbls)
Terminal @ Commercial Street: 76+/- dbls.
Bastion Bridge looking down on Terminal: 74 dbls
Seaplanes from QE promenade: 84 – 92 dbls with long hiatus when planes are in flight.

Some of my neighbours do not enjoy summer weekends’ festivities, continuing into the early hours! Canada Day, tomorrow, will no doubt be hectic in Maffeo-Sutton: so be it!

There are numerous police and ambulance sirens occurring randomly night and day. Early morning street cleaners make a good alarm clock if you are an early riser: 4.00+/- am.

Weekday traffic, on Terminal just below my window, usually registers in at 60- dbls.

At 86 dbls +/- the level is not, extra ordinarily, airport-high but the incessant hacking, and its been going on for three months, is disturbing as it permeates this end of town.

Such gratuitous noise in a residential neighbourhood would, I expected, have some kind of restrictions. NOT!

I arrived here fourteen years ago from Centro Historico Mexico City, where accidentally triggered, high decibel, car alarms and more boisterous decibel, club nocturno frivolities rule in the early hours.

Nevertheless, the jackhammering across from Seacrest, tops that: three months continual, dawn to dusk until I compaine, is absolutely unacceptable.

The city doesn’t thinq so!

Some weeks ago I wrote to the city expecting staff to enforce a noise by-law to protect the peace. Staff offered a very general observation that noise is not acceptable but offers no parameters . . .

Click to access 4750.pdf

. . . NOISE CONTROL BYLAW 1994 NO. 4750 that invokes the question, is a MBA qualification in a civic administration appropriate? The city is not a profit-oriented business!

The proposed structure on the Chapel site is a six-story condominium. Height is usually measured from adjacent mean sidewalk level. Compared to its neighbours six stories is low: Seacrest is seventeen, Pacifica is eighteen and the proposed Hilton/Stantec hotel is posted at thirty stories.

The question is then, why hack into solid rock? Seacrest, a few feet across Chapel, on the same rock, didn’t!
Essentially I would have thought, there is an opportunity to take advantage of the different levels, without the debilitating process of gouging the rock that the design, apparently, ignores.

Which raises the question, if Seacrest was able to accommodate all its utilities at ground level why should not the smaller building also: it would certainly save the developer money.

Accordingly, I am somewhat apprehensive about the construction noise from proposed hotel across Front. It could well go on for over a year.

Post Note. I received a brief voice mail from the city today, Monday June 30, the effect that drilling will continue over the next week to install hydro wires and utilities. Given the, over three-months, of disturbance so far that is even more unacceptable!