Colwood residents looking for dust control found it at Monday’s council meeting.
Council passed the first three readings on Dust Control Bylaw No. 1604, which requires developers to control dust with water or equivalent dust suppressants to mitigate dust emissions.
Residents of several residential communities near ongoing developments have been vocal about the problem and Coun. Gordie Logan said the bylaw is moving forward.
“Council had heard loud and clear the concerns from residential property owners about issues of dust, (especially) prolonged issues of dust in their neighbourhood,” Logan said.
“(We) needed to have a tool we could use to enforce or control the issue.”
Council heard some of the loudest voices coming from the Latoria Valley, but without singling any particular builders out, Logan said it is all about developers working with the community and council to find solutions that work for all parties involved.
“I don’t think we expect them to eradicate dust 100 per cent. Everyone is reasonable, but if they make a conscious effort to mitigate through applying water (or a chloride solution) on a regular basis … They’re being good neighbours,” Logan said. “That is what the whole focus is on here, to make sure these property developers are sensitive to their neighbours and the effect their development has on their existing community.”
Calcium and magnesium chloride solutions are commonly used on unpaved roads to suppress dust. The chloride solutions pull moisture from the air to help keep dusty areas moist, even in hot and dry conditions, for extended dust suppression.
Non compliance would come with a $1,000 fine, but Logan said fines aren’t the first resort, conversations and communication are, to help with the challenges affecting various residences throughout the seaside community.
“I just want to emphasize the City wants to work in collaboration with the developers on mitigating dust issues, as opposed to coming down with the hammer,” he said. “I’m not sure they’re happy with it. But it’s important to know that while it’s a tool the City has in their tool box, we would rather work in collaboration with developers … Levying fines would be a last-ditch effort.”
Logan said he has heard stories from residents about dust affecting enjoyment of their properties, air quality for those that have breathing challenges and soiling challenges with dust blanketing their property as it settles.
John Newton of Homewood Contractors Ltd., which is building Elevation Point, from 517 to 535 Latoria Rd. in Colwood, said his company makes every effort to mitigate dust, but it isn’t quite as easy as it sounds.
“In the summer it’s going to be almost impossible to make it work … you can pour water on it, but on a hot August day, it’s going to dry right up,” he said. “Basically, all that does is delay projects again. You almost have to shut down … We do our best; we don’t want to bother neighbours because that reflects badly on what we do and that effects sales too.”
He hopes for patience from the residents and for more diligence from all the developers in Colwood including themselves.
“We put water on the road to keep the dust down… (But) there are guys that just don’t care about their neighbours, and that’s why they bring these bylaws. But it is kind of like bringing the sledgehammer to kill a fly.”
The final reading for the bylaw is expected later this month.