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Seniors housing resident escalates noise complaint to BC Ombudsperson

Francis Veillard says noise and fumes from idling trucks disrupt sleep, cause headaches
Residents of Wayne Place say trucks such as this one parked directly in front of the seniors residence often idle overnight disrupting their sleep. (Video screenshot)

It appears there may be no relief in sight for residents of Wayne Place in downtown Prince Rupert from idling trucks they say are disrupting their sleep.

The seniors housing residence is located at First Avenue and Sixth Street in a busy area of the city centre near several hotels, the Prince Rupert Airport Shuttle Centre and Rupert Square Mall.

Francis Veillard said trucks frequently park nearby and idle overnight. Not only does the noise disrupt his sleep, he said, but the fumes give him headaches.

Veillard has talked to several members of city council and has also taken the issue to the RCMP, he said, with no satisfaction.

Brody Hemrich, a spokesperson for the Prince Rupert RCMP, said while police have the authority to ticket for municipal infractions, if no bylaw is being broken, there is little they can do but act as mediators. In a case such as this, they may ask a truck driver to turn off their engine or move, but cannot force them to do so.

But Veillard says there is a law being broken, the city’s noise bylaw.

One of the intents of the bylaw is to: “Regulate or prohibit the making or causing of noises, or sounds in or on a highway or elsewhere in the municipality which disturb, or tend to disturb the quiet, peace, rest, enjoyment, comfort or convenience, or of persons in the vicinity or which the Council believes are objectionable or liable to disturb the quiet, peace, rest, enjoyment, comfort or convenience of individuals or the public and may make different regulations or prohibitions for different areas of the municipality.”

At a council meeting Jan. 22, however, Coun. Barry Cunningham and city manager Rob Buchan, expressed doubt the vagueness of the bylaw would withstand a legal challenge.

Veillard does not see the problem, saying the bylaw seems perfectly clear.

He, along with another resident and the current and former managers of the residence, presented a petition to city council, signed by 12 residents, at its March 25 Committee of the Whole meeting.

The petition called for “immediate measures to stop it, and prevent it, as our lives are affected.”

Veronika Stewart, the city’s manager of communications, said “there isn’t any legal recourse that we have to address the complaint.”

She said the city has taken steps, though, through other means.

“Although it’s not an enforceable infraction, we did also reach out individually to all of the trucking companies who voluntarily agreed to move their vehicles to be less disruptive, which we understand they have done.”

According to Veillard, however, that is not the case. As recently as June 4, a large transport parked directly across the street from Wayne Place starting at 6 p.m.

And, he said, his calls and emails to council and city staff are met with vague responses or frequently ignored altogether.

Despite that contention, Stewart said the bylaw department takes all complaints seriously and always follows up with complainants.

Veillard vehemently disputes that assertion.

He wants the city to designate the area around Wayne Place as an idle-free zone. He said there is a very simple solution as there is ample parking on Second Avenue between 6th and 9th Streets during the overnight hours, as well as, in the parking lot of the Rupert Square Mall.

A former city planner himself, in both France and Canada, he said he can’t understand why the city is having such a difficult time with his complaint.

“Never, ever, have I encountered such an absurdity,” he said.

Veillard has now taken the matter to the office of the BC Ombudsperson, which investigates complaints about public sector organizations not treating people fairly or not following rules and regulations. He said he has forwarded all the documentation he has accumulated over the past year and is waiting for a reply.

Thom Barker

About the Author: Thom Barker

After graduating with a geology degree from Carleton University and taking a detour through the high tech business, Thom started his journalism career as a fact-checker for a magazine in Ottawa in 2002.
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