Toronto

'Sleepless in Toronto': Non-stop Gardiner construction keeping neighbours up at night

People who live near the east end of the Gardiner Expressway say they haven't been able to get to sleep for months because of jackhammers, drills and other construction noise overnight — and ear plugs just aren't cutting it anymore.

Community meeting on noise levels to be held at St James Cathedral Centre Friday at 6:30 p.m.

Construction on the Gardiner Expressway rehabilitation project is underway 24 hours a day to expedite the work. It's expected to be completed in 2021. (CBC News)

People who live near the east end of the Gardiner Expressway say they haven't been able to get to sleep for months because of jackhammers, drills and other construction noise overnight — and ear plugs just aren't cutting it anymore.

It's all part of a large city project to rehabilitate the aging roadway, which is due to be completed in 2021. But residents say the current leg of the construction — Jarvis Street to Cherry Street — is disrupting their lives and their health.

"The issue for us is the noise levels that we're having to endure through the evening," said Suzanne Kavanagh with the St. Lawrence Neighbourhood Association.

"We've got children that are having trouble sleeping. They have to go to school the next day."

Some residents have taken to social media to share what they're hearing in the early hours of the morning.

A community meeting with city officials is being held at St. James Cathedral, located at King Street East and Church Street, at 6:30 p.m. Friday.

Suzanne Kavanagh, with the St. Lawrence Neighbourhood Association, has been affected by the noise from the overnight construction. She's hopeful that a meeting with city staff will help find solutions. (CBC News)

In a news release from the association, another resident echoes Kavanagh's concern about the effect the noise is having on his children's education.

 "Kids find it difficult to pay attention at school because of the lack of sleep," Ben Bull said, adding that noise machines, ear plugs and sleep masks are scattered around his home.

Another resident claims to have overslept and missed a meeting due to the noise.

It's an issue the city is well aware of. It's received approximately 160 complaints from around 91 people.

'A balancing act'

Mayor John Tory says he sympathizes with the downtown residents and adds that the city has received quite a few complaints.

"It was always expected in the original contract that the construction work would go on until 11p.m.," he said.

"But it was also understood that the really noisy work as opposed to the work that wasn't as noisy would not happen at times when people were trying to sleep."

Mayor John Tory says the really noisy construction work isn't supposed to happen when people are trying to sleep. (CBC News)

Tory says he planned to discuss the matter with city staff and the construction company, but finishing the project in a timely manner is also a priority.

"People want this work to get done as quickly as possible, so there's a balancing act between the noise and getting it done quickly and we've got to make sure we find the right balance."

Coun. Joe Cressy, who represents Ward 10, Spadina-Fort York, has expressed concerns about the overnight work.

"I have said many times that this kind of construction activity should be limited to daytime hours because it often affects thousands of people who live nearby," he wrote on his website back in June.

Kavanagh says she's optimistic about Friday's meeting — and she's not opposed to some overnight construction. 

"We are hopeful that they'll figure out a way to open up the contract and reverse the work so that this heavy duty noise work will be done during the day," she said.

"We'd be thrilled if that would happen."

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