Anne-Marie Deryawa has grown and tended her Rowland Avenue garden for the last 30 years. But if you listen to her, her enjoyment of it has diminished since summer 2014, when the Heights at Mountain View part of the Campus on Care on Carey Road opened.
“I cannot enjoy my yard, many of my neighbours cannot enjoy their yard,” she said. As she speaks, she stands in her backyard with the seven-storey building peeking through the trees and bushes that line her fence. She said this greenery, which appears overgrown in parts, serve as a screen against what local residents consider noise pollution coming from the building.
Specifically, Deryawa and others who have contacted the Saanich News are concerned about the droning that comes from the building’s complex mechanical and air-conditioning systems located on the roof of the seven-storey building.
Deryawa said the droning is worse during the summer, when the heating system is running during the hot days. “Depending on which angle of the building you are at, the noise deepens or decreases.”
When Deryawa wants to work in her yard, she either turns on her water pump and her music. “Otherwise, all I hear is the constant downward droning of the heat pump,” she said.
Others have reported similar concerns.
Shelia Maxwell has lived in her Homer Road residence since 1964, having purchased it from her parents in 1974. So she knows the neighbourhood. “It is a lovely neighbourhood, close to many amenities and with a very congenial group of neighbours,” she said. Many, like Maxwell, were initially accepting of the building’s arrival. But its “irritating droning” has diminished this acceptance and diminished the quality of life for many including Maxwell.
Maxwell said a significant hearing loss requires her to wear a hearing aide. “If I want to sit out on my deck in the shade to read on warm days, I find I either have to remove my hearing aids or move indoors as the noise from the Heights is really very frustrating and irritating.”
The issue is not new. Neighbours, including the local neighbourhood association, has raised it in the past, dating back years.
Deanna Bogart, a spokesperson for the Baptist Housing Society, said the society reduced the height of a parapet wall on the top of the roof to save $70,000 to come within budget following construction delays in broadly confirming at least part of the claims that appear posted on the website of the Mount View Colquitz Community Association.
The society made this move after consulting an acoustic engineer, who said that lowering the wall would have a visual rather than an acoustic impact, she said.
She also added that the society has combined with the Capital Regional Hospital District to make improvements worth about $100,000 after residents had complained about the noise as part of its commitment to be a good neighbour and create a harmonious environment.
Testing before the improvements showed decibel levels of the system ranged between 55 and 60, she said.
That would have placed the building above the levels that Saanich permits. Section 7(b) of Saanich’s noise suppression bylaw provides that a heat pump should not operate at a level in excess of 50 decibels between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. and 45 decibels between 10:00 pm and 7:00 am.
Bogart said decibel levels have now fallen below 40 following the improvements, adding that the society has met existing local standards.
Megan Catalano, a spokesperson for the District of Saanich, acknowledged that staff had looked into complaints from neighbours. “Saanich bylaw enforcement followed up on the complaints and took a number of noise readings,” she said. “No contravention was found. Saanich spoke with CRD staff indicating the concerns and asked them to see what else they may be able to do to address residents concerns. We also provided residents with contact information for key CRD staff.”