February 20 Committee of the Whole Highlights

All but one agenda item were about land use involving Variance Permit Applications.  After Council asked questions of applicants and debated any issues, I voted with the Council majority to approve and move all but one of these requests forward to our next Council meeting.  

However, I voted against a variance permit application to install a new heat pump at 1395 Hampshire Road.  On the site of a new home next door to the Monterey Centre, the applicant requested to place a heat pump on the northern boundary of the property line, within only a few feet of the Centre.

While I admit that the applicant had completed their due diligence related to researching the type of pump and testing noise levels in another setting, I believe that placement still posed possible noise issues for neighbouring properties.

Some Council members argued that the 1300 block of Hampshire is already busy with traffic noise and that another new home and heat pump are situated directly across the street.  I agree that during the day, noise originating from a number of sources on that section of Hampshire can be considerable.  But I also understand from planning staff that it is not during daylight hours that complaints about heat pump noise are made; it’s at night when it’s more quiet that most complaints emerge. 

I was also reminded that just a few weeks ago, Council turned down a similar request to vary the location of a heat pump that had caused angst for neighbours over a long period of time.

I agree that heat pumps can be considered a “green” alternative to other types of heating and cooling systems for homes but, until manufacturers can effectively address noise pollution caused by heat pumps, these units remain a real issue for adjacent neighbours, unless discreetly placed according to existing bylaws and screened for noise and aesthetics.

A Council majority approved to move forward this variance application to next week’s Council meeting agenda.