“LOUD NOISES!!!” Welcome To Condo Construction In Toronto…


3 minute read

May 28, 2014

“They can’t get away with this, can they?”

That’s what a friend asked me the other day, when a truck pulled up at 12:30am on a Saturday night, and workers got out, with flashlights, and scurried into a condo construction site to complete work under the radar when seemingly nobody was looking.

There are rules for condo construction, and noise by-laws, but do they do any good?  Are they actually enforced?

A blog reader emailed me a video the other day, which shows EXACTLY what is going on at 7:01am.  Listen to the noise, and just realize that only some of it is captured on video…

Any questions about construction guidelines?

Well, our good ‘ole City of Toronto has a web page that accurately outlines rules, regulations, and “suggestions,” which I find comical at best.  Click HERE for the web page.

This is my favourite part:



Communicating with your neighbours

It is important for you to keep neighbours informed of your building plans at all times. Before starting work on your building project, you should:

  • Tell your neighbours what is being planned by writing or visiting them personally.
  • Tell them how long construction will take.
  • Provide them with a way to contact you if they have concerns about the project or if there is an emergency.
  • Post your building permit in a prominent area on your property.

When neighbours are fully informed, they tend to be more understanding and supportive of your project.




If only the real world worked like this.

Imagine every Torontonian knocking on their neighbours’ doors?  “Hello, my name is Kyle, and I live four houses down.  I just wanted to let you know that I’m installing a hammock on my back deck, and I’m going to be using a power-drill for about twenty-five minutes.”

Is the city really this naive?

Or do they just run their website like they’re talking to 5-year-olds?

Silly, amateur websites aside, I’m constantly asked by downtown-dwellers just what exactly the rules are.  Nobody seems to know what developers are allowed to do on construction sites, what days/times they can work, etc.

For this, you have to take a look at the City of Toronto Municipal Code, “Noise Bylaw,” which states:

The Noise Bylaw (Chapter 591, City of Toronto Municipal Code) permits operation of construction equipment ONLY during Monday to Friday 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Saturdays 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., and no construction noise on Sundays and statutory holidays (amending bylaw 505-2006).

Monday to Friday, starting at 7:00am.

That’s it, folks!

If you happen to live next door to a construction site, NOW you know what to expect.

It’s a by-law, and it’s not going to change.

Developers run the downtown core, since there is no real “official plan” for the city, and the city doesn’t know how to turn down these massive developmental charges, as well as the eventual property taxes the condos will provide.

I’m surprised they have a by-law at all.  I’d think by this point, developers would just tell city officials, “Go back to your desk; we’ll let you know when we need you.”

The video above was shot literally a few minutes after 7:00am, and you can hear trucks backing up making the loud “beeeeep beeeeep” noise as they are required to do when going in reverse, the sound of hammering, sawing, and of course – people yelling at full volume.

It wouldn’t surprise me if this went on past 7:00pm, and it also wouldn’t surprise me if they started before 7:00am too.

Who’s going to do anything about it?

The friend that I referenced in the intro of this blog post – he lives on George Street.  He was sitting on his patio one night at 12:30am, and he watched workers sneak into “a construction site” (you can figure this one out on your own…) across the street, and with the help of flashlights, they found their way up the stairs to this building, which was poured concrete but with no glass exterior yet, and they worked all night.  They were electricians, so the noise was non-existent.  But it goes to show you that some developers (maybe those behind schedule by four years?) don’t care about the rules, and are willing to risk getting caught, in order to cut costs, and work faster.

I’ve always said, “Don’t buy a condo next to a vacant parking lot.”

The whole city is going to be developed eventually, so maybe it’s impossible to avoid.

But we can certainly try.

Oh – and THANK YOU to the City of Toronto for only allowing construction to start at 9:00am on Saturday’s, because, you know – we’re ALL up by then, after a hard week’s work…

Written By David Fleming

David Fleming is the author of Toronto Realty Blog, founded in 2007. He combined his passion for writing and real estate to create a space for honest information and two-way communication in a complex and dynamic market. David is a licensed Broker and the Broker of Record for Bosley – Toronto Realty Group

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  1. GinaTO

    at 11:26 am

    “trucks backing up making the loud “beeeeep beeeeep” noise”

    Bane of my existence when a condo building was built right next to mine. I called the city’s Municipal Standards and Licensing, and had an inspector assigned to the case – if I had further complaints, I would talk to the same person each time, and he would let me know if there were any changes or responses from the developer. I also called my councillor’s office (Trinity-Spadina, at the time), and they did a good job liaising with the construction site people. It doesn’t solve all the problems, but the city and the councillor did take the issue seriously. If the situation is really bad, the city will send you documents to fill to track ongoing noise violations, and the developer can be fined (no idea as to how effective this is though). Also, we had a great condo board that worked closely with the councillor to resolve the issue.

    So yeah, the loud noise at 7 am sucks, but if at least they wait until then, that’s the best you can hope for. The main problem I had with the site next to my building was that they’d wait until 7 to start the work, but they would start bringing their trucks on site as early as 6 am – those trucks with the big bins in the back that rattle very loudly every time they hit the smallest pothole. That drove me crazy.

    1. Brad Ketchen

      at 5:19 pm

      Yep. Just wrote about the early hour of trucks arriving. Earlier than 6am!! The sound of them showing up, the air brakes is enough! But it goes on from there… I feel your pain. All I can say write now. 🙁

  2. Pragmatic

    at 1:50 pm

    The bylaws are completely useless. In my neighbourhood, there has been construction at different projects for several hours on 3 Sundays out of the last 4, and also on Victoria Day (the subcontractor said that he was “catching up” on a delayed project and had never heard of the bylaw). The city does nothing when informed.

    Also had concrete pouring start at 7 am (before 9!) last Saturday.

    I have heard every excuse imaginable – contractors that claim their work is exempt, ones that claim that the bylaw doesn’t apply to small contractors, and ones that claim it doesn’t apply to exterior landscaping work.

    The worst is contractors that claim that “set up” is exempt – the workmen start erecting scaffolding or such at 6 am, complete with shouting and loud music added, and think that because they don’t start using power tools until 7 am the activities are permitted.

  3. Darren

    at 2:02 pm

    I don’t agree with Pragmatic. I work in construction and at more than one job I’ve been on, the city has given them warnings for noise before 7. That includes the reversing noises of delivery trucks. If you complain (perhaps it takes more than one, I don’t know) the city will act.

    1. Pragmatic

      at 10:12 am

      The city will eventually issue a warning, if you complain enough times. Unfortunately, by then the subcontractor has finished his portion of the work and the next weekend it’s a different subcontractor that is at fault, claiming he has never heard about the bylaws.

      The city never seems to go after the owner / project manager, and never seems to actually issue a fine, so the warnings are ignored.

      1. Brad Ketchen

        at 5:23 pm

        Yep.. I was going to note that in my post. It’s always a new contractor… And to quote M*A*S*H… “there’s thing one you can do about it”. 🙁 That’s just the Way it is… song in there too.

  4. gv

    at 8:47 pm

    I spent countless hours dealing with my city councillor’s office and the bylaw officer as a condo went up next door. My main issue was construction starting every Saturday at 7am. Yes they received a warning but nothing changed. I waited as bylaw inspection hoped to get a Saturday shift. My neighbours who called the police for crazy late night noise found they would not come. The builder got away with it for 2 years.

  5. Cliff

    at 9:42 am

    Builders can do whatever they want in this city.

  6. DavidP

    at 4:09 pm

    I also live on George facing the Post House Condos construction and I called the police and filed a complaint when crews were fanning the concrete at midnight to dry it to hurry the construction along.

  7. Frances

    at 11:05 pm

    I’ve lived through the building of a monster house next door and, believe me, it was bad too. Not only that but they drove large trucks across my front lawn and the walkway to the road; I had ruts in the grass 6 inches deep and cracks on the concrete. It cost us nearly $2000 to have it all repaired. And they trespassed on my property whenever they felt like it.

  8. Alex

    at 1:44 pm

    I have a friend in Markham who lives next to a condo construction site and apparently there they can get permits to do work well past midnight on any day. He’s been kept up past 3am on Sundays(and other weekdays) because of the construction, but when numerous people in his condo complained the management said they couldn’t do anything because the town said they had granted a permit for construction at that time. So Toronto is actually pretty good, or at least not the absolute worst.

    1. Kevin

      at 10:06 am

      Forget living beside a condo under construction, try living INSIDE one.

      My builder pushed occupancy to before the building was finished so they can take buyers’ money early. Why and how they were able to do this is beyond me, just another proof of Canadian laws and government only existing to help and serve the wealthy.

      The noise was constant and in your face for the first few months, with the usual fanfare of drilling, hammering, trucks rumbling and beeping by, and building material being dropped on concrete, all within several feet of me, starting as early as 7 am in the morning. It died off after the fourth month of living there, but it started again last month and happening still. Today I woke up to my drywall literally shaking and the oh-so tantalizing loud whirring of an industrial drill. Two inches of concrete doesn’t do squat to dampen the sound. I still have no idea what they are working on, but it sounds like they were drilling the concrete (fixing up their previous shoddy work perhaps?).

      Maybe they’re doing it to annoy me on purpose, on account of the two times I called the cops on them. BTW, the police are no help, they barely know the bylaws they’re suppose to enforce. The first time I called, the sergeant on the other end actually told me that construction was OKAY on a Sunday. I had to pull out the bylaw number before they sent someone over…well folks that’s the state of our law enforcement, only good for giving out traffic tickets and working for their own imagined version of the law.

      I would never buy a condo again, at least not in the current state of the business here in the GTA. Builders are just out to take your money, quality has dropped like an anvil in the air, and there is just no consideration or care for the buyer once the deposit is paid and ink laid to paper. Even the newer single homes are like this, overpriced and under-built. We live in a real estate market where builders can charge a million dollars for a home and give you plastic kitchen countertops, and get away with it (which actually happened to my mom’s friend). Then we have the government who is so eager to get their finger in the honey jar that they drop all pretense of serving the community and bend over to cater to these big corporate developers. Tell me, what’s the difference between this and what’s going on in China or India, where civil officials openly take bribes and only the wealthy or distinguished are served by the law?

    2. Dan

      at 12:39 am

      Toronto is the same. I just came back from construction site adjacent to my building. I asked the guys why they are pouring concrete at midnight and the foreman told me they have a permit from the city. Also, f
      or the last three weeks there has been air compressor left on all night long! I hate condos!

  9. Brad Ketchen

    at 5:14 pm

    Thanks for the video! I live at 8 Gladstone, part of the ‘Carnaby’ development. I found our place last minute as my Girlfriend’s real Estate agent (who sold her Century home) carted us around the city to look for a nice place to live. As soon as we moved in, there was row of houses to the North of us that were immediately knocked and construction started.

    Now, you have to understand, I do know the bylaw, and 7am – 7pm of construction noise is fine (unless you do shift work, etc). But… here’s the kicker… to add to the 12am Electrician story (um… no way!!!), trucks show up as early as 5:30, sun up basically starting in the Spring. Last Year, actually I counted, during the next door excavation, 10 dump trucks all lined up, idling from the foot of Gladstone to construction site. My Girlfriend witnessed someone living here screaming at them “REALLY, REALLY?” to no response. Lucky he didn’t get the fuck you!

    I feel there’s nothing achieved by screaming at the employees. (well, maybe the contract dump truck drives that want to be the first in and out and back again to maximize their $$$ day). But the others are workers for Streetcar Developments and contracted firms. The workers would probably like to be in their beds sleeping in, with no noise mind you. 😉

    I’ve contacted 311 Toronto, Our councillor Ana Bailao, which I got a reply from a minion who gave me the ‘oh dear.. that’s bullshit’… But nothing’s been done. 311 said they’d send a by-law officer around. I doubt he’s even working at 6 in the morning, and if he does, it’s the morning when the Project manager didn’t schedule a truck and workers to arrive at 6 or before!!! I could go on….

    I know Project managers, and I know how they work. I play music with one who’s worked for Van Bots and other big firms. They have to report to the boys that report to the big boys to fulfill the bottom line. And a Cold Winter means they’re behind schedule. And so, are in charge of booking shipments, projects and everything that goes into developing condos… fair enough.

    But the bottom line, for those of us that already live here, have to put up with the racket, and at unlawful hours. What’s the point, when you pay to live in a Condo for a somewhat restful sleep? And the funny thing, letters of party noise in the elevator, of which I got out of my system 10 Years ago!! 😉

  10. Denise

    at 2:47 pm

    Don’t bother calling the police regarding construction noise any longer. I tried on Sunday July 31, 2016 and was told to call 311, because it’s a bylaw. Even when I said “What good is that? 311 has nobody who can go out and put a stop to the noise”, they still refused. It seems to depend on what kind of noise it is, whether they will respond. Noise is noise. So much for serving and protecting.

    If the police are no longer going to respond to construction noise complaints, the city needs to have someone on call to deal with this, or what’s the point in having a bylaw? It’s a joke!

    A week later, to the day, all of a sudden kids a few houses away start yelling “lemonade, lemonade”. You’re in your own house with the windows open because finally there’s a day when you don’t need the AC and you can’t even sit and read a book without being bothered by some kind of noise. Parents should teach their children to have consideration for others. Inconsiderate children grow up to be inconsiderate adults.

  11. cnstrctr

    at 10:54 am

    Consider contacting 311 if they are working outside of regular hours. Another proactive approach is to work out to the builder directly to see if they can help. On a recent project we had a neighbour email us and comment about bin work at night, we were able to accommodate by moving the bin and helping to reduce the noise. Builders aren’t evil people we are all here to do a job.


  12. Brian

    at 7:40 am

    They started construction at 7:20 today, witch is allowed, but it was SO loud. Just like what you described in the city, except I live in riverdale! They have been doing it for weeks.

  13. Chubb

    at 2:06 pm

    The real question in my opinion, “is the City of Toronto” blatantly ignoring certain bylaws ie. noise/construction bylaw 591 to assisst in pushing certain properties owners out of their homes to swoop in and grab the properties for cheap? In short, good old fashion block busting. My wife and are experiencing and have experienced a number of events over the last four years that can truly be attriputed to the City turning a blind eye to horrible appalling developer/builder behaviour that is tantamount to “mistchief” in the legal definition. Our more resent experience is concrete deck levelling on the condo site adjacent to our property that starts at 8:00pm and continues till 1:00am. Although the City has tried to claim it is exempt from the noise bylaw that have not been able to site one word let alone a sentence from Bylaw 591 that spells out the exemption. To put things in perspective we are the last property owner left on a downtown block that has not sold out. Other mistchief has included an attempted series of attempted breakins, a building inspector telling me the neighbours house may burn down, the same inspector telling us we won’t live forever etc…. There are a ton more stories. but I am only highlighting a few.

    1. Adriana

      at 3:00 pm

      I am now living your Pain! I live in a Seniors Residence ( I am the youngest here (56) and this place is Disaster! I feel for the elderly here so much. I was awaken this morning by the sounds of hammering and construction at the apartment above me. Now, I have been placed in Quarantine due to the fact that my neighbor has tested positive ( I asked 20 times “why are you not taking precautions”……..) for Covid19, well wonderful! Stuck between Eglinton main Avenue construction and the apartment above…no one to bring me deliveries, etc…you get it all, I am sure.

      We have an Urgent situation when it comes to low income Seniors and the elderly, what I have witnessed here is Very Sad. I’ll live. I hope

      A very grateful Canadian


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