City council won’t be reversing a decision made last fall to allow PCL, the company that’s negotiating a contract with the provincial government to build a new Mills Memorial Hospital, to work on Sundays.
Instead it is asking its staffers to meet with the company and the Northern Health Authority to find ways of easing residents’ concerns about noise and construction dust that’s already started and will continue from now until the scheduled completion date of fall 2025.
Those concerns were presented to council last night in the form of a petition signed by nearly 40 residents saying they were not “informed, notified or asked for our approval prior to the beginning of the project.”
Wesley Teal, who presented the petition, also questioned the need by Northern Health to clearcut the construction site when residents had been told there’d be a buffer of trees left between themselves and the project.
Residents did meet with PCL and Northern Health last week, Teal added, but felt they weren’t listened to and their attempts at solutions were dismissed.
“They said you do what you do on your side of the fence and we’ll do what we do on ours,” said Teal of the meeting.
Council’s approval of the ability of PCL to work Sundays from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. came last Oct. 26 in the form of a motion to vary the city’s own noise control bylaw which normally limits construction to Monday to Saturday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
All council was present at that meeting and the motion was passed unanimously.
City development services director David Block told council at the time that PCL presented very little detail about its construction plan.
A letter from PCL at the time did indicate that working on Sunday would shorten the overall construction time and reduce overall costs.
Councillors Sean Bujtas and James Cordeiro brought up costs again last night, with both saying the $447.5 million construction project may not have been approved had working on Sundays not be permitted.
But both did say there need to be measures now taken to answer matters of dust and noise with Bujtas saying that as a parent, he sympathized with the situation.
Cordeiro said PCL was given the “privilege” of working on a Sunday, something that did not exempt it from activity that affected others.
Terrace mayor Carol Leclerc, who sits on a Northern Health committee designed so that community issues can be brought to the project, said she had been told there were would be measures taken to minimize light and noise.
Under questioning from councillor Brian Downie as to what powers the city does have, Block said it was likely the city’s only regulatory recourse was its nuisance bylaw.
Still, he said, staffers would respond to citizen complaints by speaking with PCL and Northern Health.