A Toronto councillor has written an open letter to Premier Doug Ford questioning the rationale behind extending the hours where residential construction is permitted in the midst of the pandemic.
Councillor Josh Matlow wrote the letter to the premier and posted it on his social media accounts after the province extended the hours where work is permitted on Toronto condo construction projects not associated with the health-care sector to between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.
This follows another post on social media that saw Matlow question why condo construction was given priority over public projects such as the completion of Davisville School.
On April 3, Premier Ford announced that the province would be shutting down parts of the construction industry in an effort to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.
Residential construction is allowed to continue on certain projects that have already begun.
The permitted construction hours were extended on April 8.
“As the provincial government shut down most sectors of our economy due to the public health emergency, they selected to add residential construction on to the essential workplace list,” said Matlow.
“That didn’t make a lot of sense to a lot of us with respect to how building a condo was deemed by the government to be essential in the midst of a global pandemic.”
Matlow said it can be challenging for workers to practise social distancing on these sites, and they are often working in unhygienic conditions sharing a portable toilet and without running water.
He said that extending the construction hours would also harm nearby residents who are following government recommendations to stay in their homes and now must contend with construction noise for a greater part of the day.
“The government said hospital construction is essential, and I get that. I think most people who are living next to a hospital site, if we need a new hospital, will go, ‘OK I get that,’ ” said Matlow. “If they’re deeming a condo project essential, they really need to justify that.”
Matlow said Premier Ford responded to his letter and addressed the need for more housing.
“We all agree we need housing. We also need small businesses right?” said Matlow. “It’s a matter of what is appropriate during a public health emergency, during a pandemic, and he didn’t answer that question.”