The rush to finish the new Tim Hortons Field on schedule is costing nearby residents sleep as construction noise is starting as early as 5:30 a.m. some mornings and going as late as 2:30 a.m. overnight.
Ontario Sports Solutions flatly denies those claims, but the complaints about noise— along with frustration about parking in overly congested streets— points to a neighbourhood that is becoming sick of a stadium project rumoured to be running weeks behind schedule and the push to get it completed on time.
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“You’ve got to respect the people who live in the area. The machines are going at 5:30 and 6 in the morning,” said Chris Hobbs, who lives on Balsam Avenue North, right next to the east end stadium site. “There was a good week that they were going until 2:30 in the morning every day. It was ridiculous.”
“It’s not right.”
'It was after 1 o’clock in the morning, and I hear my house vibrating.' - Resident Steve Rebellato
Resident Steve Rebellato is sick of the noise, too — especially after he was woken up by heavy machinery one morning just after 1 a.m. Rebello filmed the incident, and you can watch it in the player above.
“It was after 1 o’clock in the morning, and I hear my house vibrating,” Rebellato said. “It was just bull. These guys start banging at 6:30 in the morning, minimum, and they’re working way past 11 o’clock. It sounds like church bells in your bedroom and your living room.”
Neighbour Kim Helstein is just as fed up by the stadium’s construction. “I have video of my windows vibrating so loud it was impossible to escape,” she said. “For a housebound individual, it's been a nightmare."
Staff will 'follow up,' city says
The city’s noise bylaw dictates that construction can only take place between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m., says Kelly Barnett, the city’s coordinator for municipal law enforcement. Construction companies can apply for a noise exemption permit, but Ontario Sports Solutions, the team of builders working on the project, hasn’t asked for one, she said.
Infrastructure Ontario has been told they would need a permit for any after-hours noise, Barnett says. The city has not, as yet, received any formal complaints from residents in the area.
“Staff are involved and will be following up,” Barnett said.
But Samuel Gandossi, the Ontario Sports Solutions project director for the stadium project, says construction workers aren’t doing any shifts before 6:30 a.m. or after 10 p.m. “I’m very sure of that,” he said.
Gandossi told CBC Hamilton he was “very surprised” video footage of employees seemingly working outside those hours existed, and he would “definitely like to see it.”
“As far as I’m aware there have been no complaints,” he said.
If bylaw violations are taking place, Barnett says, the city would first issue a warning, then issue a $105 ticket on the second offence. A third offence would garner a third ticket for $205.
Being fair to the neighbourhood while getting the job done
Interim Ward 3 Coun. Bob Morrow told CBC Hamilton the city is investigating noise issues being raised by residents. “We don’t want the neighbourhood upset unduly, even if there is a rush to get it done,” he said. “We need to be fair to the neighbourhood but also get the job done.”
Pressure continues to mount for Ontario Sports Solutions to finish the new stadium on time — but contractors have run up against several problems and delays. Last December, the Kitchener-Waterloo masonry company hired to do the brickwork for the site went into receivership. The particularly frigid winter has also caused problems.
The 22,500-seat facility will host 32 soccer games for the 2015 Pan Am Games, and is the future home of the Tiger-Cats. The Ticats’ new lease agreement includes a clause that says Ontario Sports Solutions would have to pay the Ticats $1 million for each home game missed because of a delay in constructing the stadium.
In a letter to vice-president of Infrastructure Ontario Bruce Gray, Gandossi cautioned a “worst case scenario” would represent a delay of six weeks.
Workers using street parking
Neighbourhood residents are also bemoaning the lack of parking caused by construction crews setting up shop in their neighbourhood. Balsam Avenue North is constantly lined with vehicles owned by construction workers, resident Pete Roth told CBC Hamilton. “We have no parking whatsoever. They just take over all the parking,” he said. “The city doesn’t care. Why didn’t the city in all their high power think about getting parking for their guys when they work looking at doing this?”
The parking situation is an “unfortunate thing,” but workers aren’t doing anything illegal, says Rob Gatto, the city’s manager of stadium and golf operations. “Obviously it’s been a concern since they started construction,” Gatto said. “But the stadium is built in a residential area. Where else are they going to park?”
Infrastructure Ontario could look into shuttling it’s employees back and forth from the site, he said, but to this point the organization hasn’t shown any interest in doing that.
“And it’s not part of our mandate to get them a home to park.”