Ottawa

Amazon's arrival delivers dust-up with new neighbours

Chantal Lee and Kevin Martin are upset that the construction work on the future Amazon warehouse has turned their gravel road into a main artery for dump trucks that kick up large amounts of dust each day.

Dump trucks using McVagh Road are coating homes in dust, couple says

Kevin Martin and Chantal Lee stand on the front porch of their east Ottawa home next to their dust-covered barbecue. They say hundreds of dump trucks have been thundering down their road since July to work on the Amazon warehouse construction site. (Laurie Fagan/CBC )

Chantal Lee and her husband Kevin Martin moved to their rural east Ottawa home near Vars six months ago, hoping for some peace and quiet.

But in mid-July, the couple say hundreds of dump trucks a day began thundering down their gravel road, coating everything in a thick layer of brown dust. 

A construction truck drives in front of Chantal Lee and Kevin Martin's driveway. (Kevin Martin )

The couple in their late 20s are among several homeowners on McVagh Road who are angry trucks are using their street to haul soil from the nearby Amazon warehouse construction site, which they then dump on land across from their homes. 

Homeowners who live near the Amazon warehouse construction site say non-stop truck traffic has left their homes coated in dust. 1:01

On Monday morning, municipal and provincial politicians will join Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and representatives from Amazon to officially break ground at the site on Boundary Road adjacent to Highway 417. 

The McVagh Road homeowners are about seven kilometres east of the future warehouse, and they say they never imagined the construction would affect them. 

"We woke up one morning and heard all the noise and got blasted with dust," said Lee, standing on her front porch. 

Kevin Martin's feet covered in brown dust as he waters his garden on his front lawn. (Kevin Martin )

Martin said he's power washed the vinyl siding that covers the house three times since then.

He recalled the morning of July 13 when — without any notice from either the construction company Broccolini or the city — the trucks started rolling. 

"The road has been a mess with potholes, and it would have been nice to get a heads up to this. A little common courtesy would have been great," said Martin. 

Across the street from Lee and Martin's home is the site where the soil from the Amazon construction is being dumped. (Laurie Fagan/CBC)

Lee said the potholes created by the trucks caused $900 damage to her vehicle, and she and her husband are getting professional car washes twice a week now. 

She called the city to complain about the trucks, since the street sign on McVagh Road says no trucks allowed.

Dust on Kevin Martin and Chantal Lee's truck. The couple are unhappy with the amount of dust being kicked up by heavy trucks using McVagh Road as part of the construction of the future Amazon warehouse. (Submitted)

She contacted Cumberland Coun. Stephen Blais's office, and said he told her that while McVagh is a city road, the municipality can't regulate where trucks go.

'Only so much mitigation you can do'

Blais told CBC News that despite the "no trucks allowed" sign, provincial legislation allows them access because they're delivering soil to a lot on that road — not driving straight through.

He said Broccolini and city staff are regularly grading the road and applying water and calcium to control dust. 

"We have worked hard with Broccolini to take these additional measures," Blais said. "They aren't required to take these measures and ... there's only so much mitigation you can do when you're talking about a project of this size and scope." 

One of the hundreds of trucks that Chantal Lee and Kevin Martin say pass by their home each day on McVagh Road. (Laurie Fagan/CBC)

James Beach, director of real estate and business development for Broccolini, told CBC News in an email that his staff met with city officials earlier this month and agreed someone from his company would monitor McVagh Road daily to assess the condition of the road.

When required, Beach said, a water truck and grader would be used to address the dust and potholes. 

"We understand that despite best practices being implemented, construction activities can sometimes be interpreted as nuisance," Beach wrote in the email. "We appreciate the sustained patience and co-operation of the residents within the area of construction activity." 

Kevin Martin and Chantal Lee say they've power washed their home three times since the trucks started rumbling down McVagh Road earlier this summer. (Laurie Fagan/CBC)

'All about money'

Martin said he's disappointed no one thought about them in advance. 

"Nobody cares. It's all about money. And [the Amazon warehouse] is great for the Ottawa community, but this situation is a real hot potato and  they should have dealt with this before it escalated," he said. 

Lee and Martin said they'll keep calling the city and Broccolini if they fail to keep the dust under control.

"No one has offered to pay for the costs of cleaning our house, our cars," said Martin. "A sorry would be nice."