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LETTER: Leaf blowers make construction site a noisy neighbour

Collingwood resident wants to see ban on gas-powered leaf blowers and quieter options for daily construction noise
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The construction progress on the Monaco condo site in October 2020. Erika Engel/CollingwoodToday

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As I write this, we hear that loud, obnoxious sound once again, reverberating through our windows for a period of several minutes.

Once again, because it’s the seventh time today that we’ve endured this noise for several minutes and it’s only just 10 a.m.

My wife and I have worked from home in Collingwood since the early 2000’s and our daughter is currently home from university, prepping for mid-term exams. So all three of us must endure this cacophony on a daily basis.

The noises I’m referring to are the gas-powered leaf blowers being used since construction began several months ago on the Monaco condominiums. They're being used even now, in the dead of winter. 

Monaco’s sales rep says one reason they use the blowers is to clear snow off of the balconies.

And the reality is these machines are perfectly legal, even though they can reach volumes of up to 100 decibels and emit 23 more times more carbon monoxide than a pickup truck.

It was also fine for the builder to bring in that massive whirring crane ... it was OK for their crane operator to honk his horn all day long and it wasn’t a problem for their portable lifts to beep loudly whether they were backing up or just moving a few inches. All legal. 

But despite these legalities, there’s also the reality that Collingwood has become a highly entrepreneurial community, attracting workers from across the country tied to the quality of living that awaits. And many of those people not unlike ourselves, choose to work and live downtown within easy walking distance of public amenities. 

So there’s a compelling argument to be made that in order to continue to intensify (which I would add if done properly is a positive thing we should support versus being NIMBYists) while promoting Collingwood as a poster child for quality of living, there needs to be more oversight when it comes to reducing construction site noise. That is, if we value the sanity of our residents. 
A logical starting point would be to limit if not ban the use of gas-powered blowers altogether (something over 100 U.S. cities have already done) and scrutinize other construction practices such as replacing horns with walkie-talkies to communicate. Or reducing the volume of heavy equipment backup alarms (or using backup motion detectors). 

Until such regulations are in place, for the site managers at Monaco, the right thing to do if you really care about your neighbours would be to voluntarily stop using gas-powered leaf blowers to clear the snow in favour of two wonderful inventions that have been with us for centuries: shovels and brooms. 

Mark Wessel
Collingwood, ON