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Councillors raise their voices over concerns about noise bylaw

Erin and Randy Watkins told council Langley Township has the most lenient noise bylaw in the Lower Mainland. - Dan Ferguson/Langley Times
Erin and Randy Watkins told council Langley Township has the most lenient noise bylaw in the Lower Mainland.
— image credit: Dan Ferguson/Langley Times

A complaint about lax noise limits in Langley Township produced some raised voices in council chambers on Monday afternoon.

It began when two Willoughby residents said they were plagued by construction noise, and asked the Township to change the 1988 bylaw which allows work between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. every day of the week, including Sundays and holidays.

Erin and Randy Watkins said they’ve had four years of “constant, constant, constant noise” from housing construction underway near their 68 Avenue residence.

Randy Watkins, who works an early shift, said the late-night noise has left him sleep-deprived and stressed.

On one Sunday, he said, an excavator fired up while they were having guests over.

“It was embarrassing,” he said.

Watkins said his search of construction noise limits in other Lower Mainland communities found none as lenient as Langley.

“The Township of Langley has the longest hours,” Watkins said.

The Watkins’ came to council with a 46-name petition asking for an overhaul of the noise bylaw.

Later on during the same meeting, Councillor Kim Richter presented a previously-prepared revision to the noise bylaw that would cut back the allowable hours for construction to between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on weekdays, and from 10 am. to 5 p.m. on Sundays and statutory holidays.

Richter called the current law “crazy.”

“The vast majority of people who pay taxes in this community are being inconvenienced by an archaic bylaw,” Richter said.

Councillor Charlie Fox objected, calling the Richter proposal “governance by complaint.”

“We’re trying to solve problems for people by changing bylaws and substantially change the way we do business,” Fox said.

A bylaw should not be passed without full public consultation, Fox said.

Fox said the Watkins’ should talk to the developer of the offending project.

“They need to sit down with the owner [or] the site supervisor,” Fox said, adding he has personally spoken with the owner about the Watkins concerns.

Richter dismissed the suggestion, saying it was not reasonable to expect the Watkins to personally negotiate noise levels.

Councillor Grant Ward observed that the noise would eventually end, once the housing was finished.

Councillor Bev Dornan said the idea of restricting construction hours should be studied further before council acts, because it would be a bad idea to change the rules during what she called “prime building season” in Langley.

Councillor Bob Long said the Township should study what other municipalities are doing.

“We don’t want to shut the town down,” Long said.

Mayor Jack Froese said a review of the 1988 bylaw was in order.

“I think it is time to take a look at it,” Froese said.

The debate on the proposed bylaw revisions ended with a council vote to have staff review the issue and report back, but it resumed, briefly, a few minutes later.

When Fox called for action to quell an reported outbreak of property thefts from cars in a local park, citing complaints from residents, Richter objected, saying what Fox was trying to do was no different than her attempts to get action on noise, based on a complaint.

 

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