Residential Construction as an Essential Workplace and Override of City Noise By-Law

Hon. Doug Ford Premier of Ontario
Legislative Building, Queen’s Park
Toronto, ON M7A 1A1

RE: Residential Construction as an Essential Workplace and Override of City Noise By-law

Dear Premier Rob Ford,

We appreciate that these are difficult times and that serious actions are required by your government to protect public health and safety. However we were taken by surprise with two recent actions regarding construction activity that your government has taken, despite the extensive restrictions affecting many other sectors to reduce the impact and the spread of the COVID 19:

  • To declare residential construction sites as essential services, and therefore to remain open as workplaces, and
  • To override the City of Toronto and its municipal noise by-law from April, 7, 2020 to October 7, 2021 (Ontario regulation 130/20).

Making residential construction an essential service opens a significant risk of COVID-19 infection to workers. The nature of construction sites with various trades working, often in close proximity to one another makes physical distancing very challenging. And on construction sites it is difficult to follow hygiene practices recommended to limit the spread of COVID-19. We wonder, as others have, if your decision regarding construction was made on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health?

Regarding provincial override of the City of Toronto Act, to relax the construction provisions of the Construction Noise By-law, resulting in an increased number of hours that residents of Toronto are exposed to construction noise, is both inappropriate as a policy measure, and harmful to Toronto residents. The Noise By-Law provides for ensuring special exemptions are permitted, often with mitigation plans required, and this noise protection may be lost.

Excessive noise is a health hazard that impacts the physical and mental health, and quality of life of residents. Toronto’s Noise By-law permits construction to operate Monday to Friday 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturdays 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and not at all on Sundays and statutory holidays.

Allowing construction equipment to operate from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., 7 days a week, including holidays, at a time when many more people will be exposed as they are now at home. Any opening of construction hours and noise permissions must stop as soon as possible and not be open until 2021.

Given the impacts on public health of excessive noise, your government’s decisions to reduce or open restrictions must be made on the basis of public health advice, and not on sectoral influence. We again question whether these measures pass this test.

We urge that you reverse these measures; remove residential construction from the Essential Workplaces list, and eliminate the override on the City of Toronto’s Noise By-Law.

Respectfully submitted,

Geoff Kettel
Co-Chair, FoNTRA

Cathie Macdonald
Co-Chair, FoNTRA

cc: Members of Provincial Parliament
Chief Medical Officer of Health
Mayor John Tory and City Councillors
Chief Matthew Pegg, Office of Emergency Management
Tracey Cook, Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and Standards
Federation of Urban Neighbourhoods
Association of Municipalities of Ontario
FoNTRA member associations