Jonathan Whitley and neighbours who live in a building at the corner of 5th and England in downtown Courtenay are losing sleep twice a week due to early morning noise from street sweepers and leaf blowers.
In a Feb. 28 presentation to Courtenay council, Whitley said street cleaning starts around 5:30 a.m. twice a week. Early morning garbage pickup is also bothersome.
“It’s extremely disruptive,” said Whitley, who lives at 430 5th St. “It’s affected our quality of life.”
On both days, he said the noise begins when the leaf blower moves along the sidewalk, then the sweeper takes seven passes on his street, within 16 metres of his window.
Whitley questions why the work has to begin at 5:30 a.m. He feels parking and safety issues are not valid reasons, noting that merchants and pedestrians do not appear on 5th until 8 a.m.
“If we could sleep until seven o’ clock, we’d be a lot happier,” Whitley said, noting the same person operates the blower and sweeper. “If the sweeper could start at seven, he’d be done by eight. A sizable number of people don’t deserve to lose three hours of sleep a week for six months of the year. That’s a lot. It’s unfair. It’s unnecessary.”
He noted that a 107-112 decibel range is equivalent to a jackhammer or monster truck rally.
He also noted that Vancouver and Victoria are set to ban gas-powered leaf blowers in the next year or two.
City staff told Whitley the noise bylaw exempts these uses. He questions city guidelines about exemptions, and what can be done to change the guidelines. He also asked if a member of council would be willing to take the lead on the issue.
Coun. David Frisch said Whitley raised some fair questions and presented a compelling argument, which garners consideration as the downtown densifies.
Coun. Doug Hillian agreed the city needs to look at the situation.