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Neighbours hope council hears noise concerns around tower project

Council will consider motion tonight to deny exemption request which would allow construction noise until 10 p.m., instead of 5 p.m.
The ongoing construction project at 37 Johnson St., in Barrie's east end.

It has to be that high, but does it have to be that loud and for that long?

Barrie councillors will consider a motion at tonight's meeting (Nov. 23) to deny a noise exemption request for the 11-storey apartment development at 37 Johnson St., a request that would allow construction noise until 10 p.m. instead of 5 p.m.

John Surowiec, who lives on nearby Indian Arrow Road, right across the street from the construction site’s back fence, doesn’t support extending the noise bylaw hours.

“That’s ridiculous,” Surowiec said. “That’s going to be a problem, for sure, to extend it to the hours when people are going to be home from work, so you can’t get away from it.

“It’s not so bad for myself, but the people with young kids … it starts at 7 (a.m.) and you feel vibrations in the house,” he said of the construction noise.

Surowiec rents his home and would have been there for three years in May, but says he’s leaving and the construction is one reason.

Construction is underway on the Shoreview project, an 11-storey rental apartment tower on 37 Johnson St., located right behind Imperial Towers, which is also 11 storeys.

Coun. Clare Riepma, who represents this part of Barrie, said he supports the staff recommendation to uphold the existing noise bylaw for a couple of reasons.

“First of all, it is not wise to set a precedent and this would set a precedent that is not supported with a comprehensive policy discussion,” he said. “The construction of this building is already disrupting the neighbourhood with significant construction traffic, interference with pedestrians, noise, dust and light pollution.

“The area is already putting up with a lot of inconvenience as a result of this construction and to add more noise for a longer period is not acceptable.”

FRAM + Slokker, a Mississauga company, wants to extend normal work hours to 7 a.m. until 10 p.m., instead of 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., and that if there are unforeseen circumstances, those hours be extended even longer, as needed.

The need to extend these hours of construction outside of the permitted hours is for the time needed after each concrete slab is poured, approximately once weekly. The finishing of the concrete can be lengthy and would result in several workers staying late under temporary lighting, utilizing gas-powered machines to trowel the concrete floor slabs.

To accelerate the concrete’s curing and decrease resident disruptions, FRAM + Slokker would begin the concrete pours early in the morning, the formworks below the areas being concreted will be enclosed and heated and an accelerator will be added to the concrete mix.

Workers would keep the construction noise to a minimum, but it would still infringe on the current bylaw requirements.

Barrie’s noise bylaw regulates many types of sound, with some prohibited by time and area while other types are regulated by noise level. 

Noise related to construction is regulated, in part, by a quiet zone or an area within 500 metres of Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH), or a long-term care facility as regulated by the Ministry of Health, Barrie City Hall, or any provincial or federal courthouse.

Barrie Manor Enhanced Care Community, at the corner of Johnson and Blake streets, is located approximately 190 metres from the construction site at 37 Johnson St., well within the 500-metre buffer area.

The city’s enforcement services department has received several noise complaints related to the construction project at 37 Johnson St., between February 2022 and September 2022. The majority relate to construction noise taking place outside of the currently permitted times in the bylaw. 

Several complaints about lights on the construction site crane system have also been received by the city, although that is not a direct violation of a city bylaw.

There have also been complaints about parking, related to the large construction vehicles as well as on-site employees parking, which impacts the surrounding streets, complaints which have been addressed by staff.

Neighbours and owner/developer Starlight Developments have a history of butting heads on this project. In September 2017, Barrie city council supported area residents and unanimously turned down a proposal to develop the residential tower at 37 Johnson St., rejecting both the Official Plan and zoning-bylaw amendments being sought by Starlight Developments. At the time, the Barrie East End Household Association submitted a petition with more than 400 signatures from people against the proposal.

But just more than two years later, following an appeal of council’s decision, the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT, formerly the Ontario Municipal Board, or OMB) ruled the project is consistent with the Provincial Policy Statement on land-use planning, conforms to the Greater Golden Horseshoe Growth Plan and adheres to the city's Official Plan. It was therefore approved in October 2019.

“This building was not approved by the city council of the day, but was approved later by the (LPAT) over the objections of the city and the neighbourhood,” Riepma said.

FRAM + Stokker is short for FRAM Building Group and Slokker Real Estate Group. It could not be reached for comment about the bylaw exemption by BarrieToday.

City council will consider final approval of this matter at its Dec. 7 meeting.