Halifax homeowner says city needs to change rules on construction blasting after $15K in repairs

·3 min read
Leah Morrison says her house in Halifax suffered damage caused by blasting from a nearby construction site. (Paul Palmeter/CBC - image credit)
Leah Morrison says her house in Halifax suffered damage caused by blasting from a nearby construction site. (Paul Palmeter/CBC - image credit)

A Halifax homeowner wants the city to change its rules around construction blasting after she says she spent $15,000 repairing her home.

Leah Morrison says she felt her house tremble from blasting during construction of a 12-storey apartment building on Joseph Howe Drive near Scot Street. Then she started seeing damage to her home on Rowe Avenue.

"There were very fine cracks the entire length of rooms from one end of the ceiling to the other," said Morrison. "Then we started seeing cracks in the exterior-facing corners of the house all up and down the entire length of the walls."

Morrison says the blasting, which took place about 100 metres away from her home on Joseph Howe Drive, went on for months.

She says it not only caused cracks in the plaster walls of her 70-year-old home but it also damaged her chimney, which caused water to run into her basement through the chimney cleanout.

"Every time it rained I dreaded it because I had to go down there and mop up water and continually put towels down and change them out," said Morrison. "There was a continuous flow of water into my basement."

The chimney had to be demolished and she says the cost of all the repair work was approximately $15,000.

The Halifax Regional Municipality has a bylaw governing blasting during construction. Morrison says she believes the developer of the building, Banc Group of Companies, complied with the rules but says the city needs to change its regulations for blasting.

CBC News asked Banc Group of Companies for comment but did not hear back by deadline.

Blast perimeter needs to be bigger, homeowner says

Morrison is particularly concerned with the perimeter the municipality sets for pre-blast inspections which are designed to track any damage that occurs from vibrations. Her home is just outside that area, meaning her house was not eligible for a pre-blast inspection.

The lack of such an inspection limited how much money Morrison has been able to recoup through insurance.  After paying a $2,500 deductible, she only received a $950 insurance payment.

"There just seems like there is no recourse and I feel like I'm being caught in the middle," said Morrison.

Paul Palmeter/CBC
Paul Palmeter/CBC

After seeing the damage done to her home, Morrison has reached out to her HRM councillor in hopes that the bylaw can be tweaked to provide more protection for homeowners.

"We need to build more housing, more sustainable housing in terms of the environmental footprint that they have," said Shawn Cleary, councillor for Halifax West Armdale.

"This is an issue that I think will come to us more frequently now seeing that there is a lot more construction in urban, densified areas."

The 12-storey building is one of several large-scale developments currently under construction in Halifax's urban core. There are four projects in various stages of development all within a few hundred metres of Morrison's home.

"Most of the big structures going in now have to have underground parking which means there will be more blasting and deeper blasting to make bigger holes," said Morrison.

"There's blasting happening in more densely populated urban areas and I'm hopeful that something will get done."

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