ontario construction covid

People in Toronto are fed up with constant late-night construction noise

Residents of Toronto have been complaining about late-night construction noise since Ontario first announced it would be extending construction hours for essential projects back in April due to COVID-19, and it seems the disturbances are really starting to get to some people. 

One Torontonian posted a video to Twitter Wednesday evening in an attempt to illustrate his constant frustration with the noise as well as his inability to do anything about it. 

"Construction at 8:30 at night. Wow they're just going at it and there's nothing I can do! 8:30 at night — nothing I can do,"  he can be heard saying sarcastically in the clip.

"Because this is a Doug Ford thing. He decided that it's ok for construction to go on until 10 o'clock at night and as early as 6 o'clock in the morning. That's just the way it is, you know? I called 311, I called my city councillor — nothing they can do. Nothing, absolutely nothing I can do."

The video has been liked more than 400 times and retweeted nearly 150 times since yesterday, suggesting that Jon is far from alone in his frustrations. 

"The affect this decision is having on your life is shameful. And I'll keep fighting until the province changes it," wrote city councillor Josh Matlow in response. "But I must say, your video was completely awesome."

Early on in the pandemic, the Ontario government announced it would be extending construction hours for essential projects and allowing companies to staff construction sites 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The new order, which came into effect on April 7, also allows the province to make adjustments to local noise bylaws to accommodate the work — including the Toronto bylaws that require noise from construction to be limited to 7 a.m.-7 p.m. from Monday to Friday, 9 a.m.-7 p.m. on Saturdays, and not at all on Sunday.

And while it was initially intended to allow for the speedy construction of essential projects such as hospital builds, expansions and COVID-19 assessment centres, it was later amended to include condo developments.

"Temporarily limiting noise bylaws to extend the hours for construction work will help make it possible to stagger shifts and have fewer workers on site at any given time so they can practice physical distancing," said Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, at the time.

But while the move may have solved one problem, many who live near construction sites argue that it simply created another. 

As a result, Matlow introduced a motion to city council back in June requesting that the province give back control of construction bylaws to the city. 

"Many construction sites are adjacent to, or within, existing residential communities," wrote Matlow in the motion. 

"The province has already removed all restrictions on construction activities, permitting work on apartment infill projects, refurbishments within buildings themselves, major renovations in Neighbourhood-designated communities, and other impactful operations."

It has now been several months since this motion was introduced, and residents have continued to complain that the noise is impacting their sleep, mental health, children and more all the while. 

The act allowing this unrelenting noise, meanwhile, prevents the city from limiting non-essential construction noise until Oct. 7, 2021. 

Suze Morrison, MPP for Toronto Centre, started a petition calling on the Ford government to stop the endless construction noise at the end of July, and she also sent an open letter to the province along with a number of other MPPs. 

"Residents living near residential and commercial construction sites have since contacted our Members, distressed by being jolted awake every morning and being unable to fall asleep at night because of construction noise," the letter states. 

"This has been exacerbated by the fact that so many of them are also spending every day working and physically distancing at home, giving them no reprieve from the construction noise during the day," it continues.

"You cannot continue to ignore this problem. In the interest of our residents' health and quality of life, you must immediately amend Ontario Regulation 130/20 to remove the provision regarding non-healthcare related construction activity."

Lead photo by

Jason Cook

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