Sunday, 17 June 2018

Infill Housing # 4

You never know when construction sites will be active. Work could start first thing in the morning or it could be busy for just a few hours in the middle of the day. So it's hard to predict. Neighbours next to infill construction might be up all night with a baby or sick child, they could be working the night shift, they might be sick themselves or maybe just plain tired. Regardless, builders are allowed to start working at 7 am on weekdays. It can go on until 8 pm.

When I was a child, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, Sunday was a day of rest. It was a restful, quiet day, meant to be spent with family.  Stores were closed and very few activities were running. Of course that day is long gone. Today's noise bylaw offers us a brief respite on the weekends. You can work from 9 am until 7 pm.

So we know we are in for a noisy summer. Things haven't been too bad so far. My parent's house is about five minutes north of us, closer to the Ottawa River. That neighbourhood is built on rock so when infill houses are constructed there, neighbours have to put up with a lot of drilling and blasting. Here it's mostly clay so we have been spared the drilling and blasting. Instead we have only the noise of the machines and the loud thuds as they deposit the dirt and debris into waiting dump trucks. Last Friday, however was different.

In order to hook up the new house to water and sewer, a trench had to be cut, pretty well right across the street in front of our house. Apparently all the neighbours were supposed to receive written notice that our street would be closed for five days because of the open trench. No notice was received. A worker casually mentioned it to us, when we happened to be outside, the day before.

Now that was noisy! As the machine banged its way through the pavement  the noise was tremendous. Our whole house was shaking. That probably didn't do our foundation any favours.

Neighbours only three doors down were having a family wedding that very day. Our block was to be closed to traffic for the annual block party on Sunday. Here's what it looked like at the end of the workday last Friday.

We left the next day but it sounds like there was plenty of action. The young neighbours, with all their little kids, weren't happy that the worksite was not properly secured. Bylaw officials and our local city councillor were notified. Besides the hole and the noise, one neighbour has had her phone and internet cable cut twice so far. This is what it's like to live near infill construction.

Because real estate folks have declared our area a desirable neighbourhood, developers are crawling all over the place, outbidding people who just want to buy a house and live here. Developers come onto our streets. knock down houses (many of them in fine shape), then disturb the neighbours with construction for months. Often they build houses that simply don't fit in with existing homes. Sometimes, the builders stay; they actually live in the new houses. Most of the time however, after all the disruption, they sell the new place, make their profit and move on to another conquest. The city allows all this, in the name of intensification of the core, which we're all supposed to embrace.

Simon and Garfunkel famously sang, "Silence like a cancer grows." We could change that to, "Infill like a cancer grows. " It really seems that once one house on a block is knocked down, others soon follow. On this one side of this one block, we have just heard that a fourth house will soon go up for sale. Surely they won't all be destroyed.

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