Vibration from infill developments could have impact on heritage homes

THE AURORAN

The redevelopment of the Aurora United Church site at Tyler and Temperance Streets for a new place of worship and a seniors’ residence hit a temporary setback last year after residents expressed concerns on how the vibrations resulting from construction might impact their heritage homes.

Photo courtesy of auroraunitedchurch.ca

Although a vibration study was commissioned shortly thereafter, Councillor Rachel Gilliland believes such studies should be part and parcel of all infill development plans coming forward in the future.

This was a driving force behind the motion she brought to the Council table last week stating that consideration be given to including policies that would mandate vibration studies as part of the pre-consultation process for intensification projects within the Aurora Promenade area.

“This was spawned by a project that began at Temperance and Tyler, one of the new infill projects that is close to heritage homes, and part of our Promenade and Major Transit Station Area (MTSA),” said Councillor Gilliland. “The project did start with good intentions, but was halted due to some vibrations caused by the construction, but I should note that a vibration study has since been requested prior to commencing.

“We don’t have any policies in place to ensure vibration studies are requested?which essentially means in order to submit an application package, the vibration study will also need to be submitted. With an expected amount of infill development, and intensification projects continue 1/8to be 3/8 located in this MTSA where many heritage homes are located, it only makes sense to add this extra step.”

Prior to presenting her motion, Councillor Gilliland said she spoke with staff “who agreed this would be an added benefit” and Council members agreed.

David Waters, Director of Planning for the Town of Aurora, noted that existing policies on vibration studies typically surround the impact on those living in the development itself rather than “within a certain catchment area outside of the development.”

“The way policies are written, it does allow for sufficient flexibility to request for vibration studies for any type of development,” said Mr. Waters. What 1/8this motion 3/8 will do is put some emphasis on when we review policies of the Official Plan in general to focus on that specific issue and to highlight it being an issue that needs some refinement in policies. It is updating the policies, making them current, and putting a bit of a spotlight on heritage areas within the Downtown Area.

“We also have the Building Bylaw as well, which also has a clause in it that allows the Chief Building Official to request a vibration study as part of a building permit application. We have exercised that clause as part of the Amica and United Church development because it wasn’t asked for before through the planning process.”

But some Council members questioned whether the request for vibration studies in the above-mentioned areas went far enough.

“We’re going to expect a lot of infill development and it is not only in areas with heritage homes, but we do have homes that are, especially in our Stable Neighbourhoods and surrounding areas, that are getting a little long in the tooth,” said Councillor Wendy Gaertner.

Also looking for something more was Mayor Tom Mrakas, who said although he supported the motion on the table vibration studies should be in force Aurora-wide.

“We’re very protective of our heritage homes in our heritage district, but I think vibrations through any project is vibrations regardless of where it is in the Town,” he said. “We’re going to have condominiums probably built along Leslie, so we’re not going to afford the same opportunities from a vibration perspective for the homes that are adjacent to those projects that are going to be happening. They would be left out. I think it should be a Town-wide policy if we’re going to do it.”

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