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Newmarket resident feuds with town over four years of mysterious noises

Aug. 11, 2021

After four years of efforts to get the Town of Newmarket to solve a mysterious noise coming from underneath his home, Roland Garfit said he is fed up.

The resident of John Bowser Crescent in the Glenway neighbourhood has tried to rally the municipality and neighbours for years to solve a noise and vibration problem he said is happening late at night, which he has believed is coming from a pump from a nearby housing development.

The town said it has not been able to find anything despite repeated investigations, and even a noise bylaw update. But with no resolution despite two ombudsman complaints, Garfit said he wants more answers from the municipality.

“Why do we have to put up with it? That’s the thing, we just want an honest answer,” Garfit said. “Are you going to get it fixed? How long is it going to go?”

The issue dates back to 2018, with the longtime resident claiming late-night noise and vibrations coming from the nearby Marianneville housing developments. It is building 292 stacked townhouses and 12 live/work units on lands it owns on Davis Drive West and Mitchell Place. Across Davis Drive West is another development, Sundial Homes, which is building 651 residential units, and has also garnered examination due to Garfit's complaints.

Garfit went public with his story in 2019, but two years later, he said the problem is still persisting without the municipality sufficiently addressing it.

Town commissioner of development and infrastructure Peter Noehammer said the town has investigated the complaint but has found no source for the noise, and has further spoken about after-hours concerns with possible sources nearby. 

“The town has addressed the noise concerns after-hours with the town’s contractor, developer, and builders in the area and they have been compliant,” Noehammer said.

Garfit has escalated the issue to the Ontario Ombudsman’s Office twice, neither of which led to any reprimand.

“Both times, the Ombudsman concluded that the town handled the complaints fairly and respectfully,” Noehammer said.

The municipality has made recent efforts to curtail vibrations from construction. In 2019, it passed a first-in-the-region bylaw to have companies do studies and constant monitoring for vibrations. It further modified its noise bylaw in 2020 to allow residents to complain in the case of smaller construction projects not covered by the larger vibration bylaw.

Garfit is not the only person in the neighbourhood to notice the noise. Neighbour Dave Lacroix said he does not get it to the extent Garfit does, but he has heard loud noises from what sound like a pump running late at night. He said he also could vouch for feeling vibrations on Garfit’s porch one night. He also has sent several complaints into the town -- without a good enough response, he said.

“Everybody’s passing the buck. Everybody’s saying OK, we’ll get something to look into it,” he said. “No one’s taking reports. No one’s ever talked to me personally."

Noehammer said councillors and Mayor John Taylor have been in communication with complainants in the area. He said the municipality takes complaints seriously and they can still be reported to customer service.

Garfit said he takes no issue with the development and he understands construction needs to carry on during the day. But he said he has experienced the noise problem too long in disallowed hours between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., particularly after it rains. He said the noise is not consistent but has got worse in recent weeks again.

“You’re trying to sleep. It either wakes you up, or you can’t sleep, and it’s irritating as hell,” Garfit said.

Garfit has said he has considered moving but has kept to his home for now. He has communicated semi-regularly with the municipality and have tried to find different possibilities for the noise or the town’s inability to find it, to no avail.

“If it doesn’t die down or they don’t do something, I don’t know how much longer I want to keep putting up with it,” he said. “It’s just been going on. You get tired of it.”