Over the summer the car park and play area of the Canadian Martyr’s Catholic Elementary School in London Road, Newmarket was dug up and reconstructed.
The work began the first work day after the school closed in June and ended just a day before school reopened in September.
In August the contractor, Joe Peluso, brought in heavy equipment to pound down the aggregates sending vibration shock waves through adjacent properties in Harrison Drive – where I live. Our homes are only a few yards from the property line.
One resident spoke of pots and pans dancing about on the stove top. In my house, china rattled and tinkled. One neighbour called the police. Cracks appeared in garage walls that weren’t there before. A 35,000 gallon swimming pool a few yards from the property line we are told started losing water.
We took our concerns about vibration and damage to the York Catholic District School Board.
Damage caused by vibration
We wanted the Board to commission jointly with the residents a structural engineer to inspect our properties for damage caused by the vibration. The school Board would pay the lion’s share and the residents – as wholly innocent third parties - would pay a nominal sum.
The School Board wasn’t having any of that nonsense. They told the residents they should claim for any damage through their own insurance policies (always assuming they had appropriate cover). It was their problem. Not the Board’s.
In 2014 the Town resurfaced Harrison Drive and to its credit told residents what was happening where and when. There was a phone number with an engineer on the other end of the line. Residents could have their properties photographed to facilitate any claims for property damage arising from the construction work.
At no stage did the School Board inform or consult Harrison Drive residents about the planned work and what they could expect.
Vibration by-law needed
Tomorrow, the Town’s Committee of the Whole will be reviewing its forward work programme and I see councillors will be considering this very issue: property damage from vibration arising from construction.
I hope Harrison Drive will be used as a case study.
The York Catholic District School Board is washing its hands of the problem. They say residents should claim against their own insurance policies, forfeiting their no claims record and paying deductibles. And, remember, the residents are wholly innocent third parties.
I want to see a new by-law compelling the York Catholic District School Board and anyone else involved in construction to adopt protocols informing residents of planned construction work and what they can expect. And to pick up the tab for any damage.
It is not just the residents of Harrison Drive who are being put through the wringer. Earlier this year a Newmarket resident, Stuart Hoffman, took a deputation to Council complaining about vibration damage caused by construction. He forced the issue on to the Council’s agenda.
Good for him.
The Town’s forward work program says this report is scheduled to be considering in the first quarter of 2019:
- That Council approve the following motion in principle:
- That staff be directed to prepare an information document that can be provided to residents in the vicinity of new construction sites, the purpose of which is to advise and to communicate to the residents, the various activities, potential impacts and expected timelines associated with each phase of construction, from site clearing through to house construction; and,
- That developers, through their consulting engineers, be required to ensure that residents, and the relevant Ward Councillor, in adjacent areas receive advance written notice of construction events to take place, so that they can be better informed and prepared for any disruption that may occur as a result; and,
- That the aforementioned motions be referred to staff for a report back including options and resource requirements.