Resident asks for blasting ban

Blasting last year caused damage to walls and doors in neighbouring homes

An Oak Bay homeowner wants blasting banned in residential areas after his home sustained damage last year.

Peter Ehlers told Oak Bay council how extensive blasting across his back lane at 1221 and 1231 Victoria Ave. last year caused cracks in the wall and damage to doors in his almost century-old home, and that the blasting company refused compensation.

“I would like you to essentially ban explosives in residential neighbourhoods,” Ehlers told council. “My experience has been absolutely horrendous. The only option someone like me has, is to spend a significant amount of money (to upgrade my home) but for what? I didn’t create this problem.”

Ehlers’s experience was triggered again when he heard about his neighbour’s plans to blow up bedrock to build a new house, located north of his.

John Young owns two, side-by-side properties on Roslyn Road. He plans to construct a new, two storey single-family home with a basement.

“I am very concerned with blasting, I own (a home) next door, “ Young said. “The blasting will be on a smaller scale than what we experienced a year-and-a-half ago.”

David Godfrey, who lives on King Road, mentioned an alternative called expanding grout.

“I understand that you drill holes into the bedrock and put this cement type substance in and in 24 hours it expands and your hear this popping noise.”

Building and planning director Roy Thomassen said expanding grout isn’t the solution to get rid of bedrock on all properties. He said low impact blasting with more holes drilled and fewer charges is another alternative, however, it is time consuming and expensive.

“I don’t know if it’s reasonable to have no blasting at all,” Thomassen said. “The Oak Bay Hotel wouldn’t have happened if they weren’t allowed to blast three storeys. Expanding grout on a three storey building would be a little difficult.”

Council directed Thomassen to look at alternatives before it decides on Young’s development proposal.

A lone oak

A few people at the meeting also raised concerns regarding the need to remove a Garry Oak tree on the property. The tree is considered to be in poor shape. The property however, has a number of other trees that will be protected, the owner said.

“I might be said to be a poor candidate to be kept, but I would like to be kept,” said David Godfrey, comparing himself to the tree that’s in poor shape. “I have seen architecture featuring trees. Architecture built around and showcasing the trees.”

John Armitage spoke in favour of the development, but against the tree removal.

“They need each other for support,” Armitage said, regarding the poor and healthy trees. “I support, in principle, this process but not at the expense of the tree. The tree didn’t ask for this.”

At least one council member sided with Young when it comes to the tree.

“One tree? I don’t really have an issue with that,” said Coun. Kevin Murdoch.


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