Ottawa homeowners say city blasting damaging houses

A pair of Ottawa homeowners say the construction of a major infrastructure project is damaging their homes. 

Blasting for the Queensway Terrace Storm Sewer Rehabilitation is occurring just metres from some homes on Henley Street, and the owners say it has caused significant damage. 

"Now we have 95 cracks around the house, including seven door jams," said Jan Wan, whose home appears to be the most impacted. 

For weeks Wan, and his neighbour Ellie Shaughnessy have been documenting damage they say is caused by the blasting. 

"We are very concerned that the city did not follow proper protocol to ensure that our homes would be protected," Shaughnessy said.  

On top of cracks in his foundation, walls, ceiling, and shifting doorframes, Wan says his house has also been shifting. 

“Slowly, we find out (sic) from the people around here, workers, is that the house settled," he said. 

City documents show that Wan’s house settled - the amount it sinks into the ground - more than 18 millimetres since blasting began near his home.  

Wan says despite reporting the issue on Aug. 29, blasting wasn’t stopped until nearly two weeks later. 

"We reported damages and the blasting continued for another ten days. Had the blasting been stopped, Jan’s foundation would not have cracked, more than likely,” Shaughnessy said. 

In a statement, C.A.C.E Construction, the contractor in charge of the project said blasting was temporarily halted.  

“We had noticed some settlement on one of the houses we were monitoring, it has not exceeded the allowable settlement threshold as stipulated in the contract but to be sure to error on the side (of) safety we suspended blasting to conduct an investigation to find the root cause and what mitigation measures the engineers would recommend,” said Paul Lemire, Project Manager for C.A.C.E Construction. 

The city says it is aware of the concerns, but couldn’t comment due to the ongoing investigation. 

"The construction monitoring for the project identified a settlement issue in close proximity to the construction," Bruce Kenney, Manager of Municipal Design & Construction for the city of Ottawa said in a statement. 

Neighbours argue it is not the cause, or the culpability they are worried about; it’s the homes, and the looming repairs they say are coming. 

"We don’t care who did it, we don’t care whose fault it is, all we care about it is that our homes are repaired to their pre-construction site," Shaughnessy said. 

"Although everyone is sympathetic, no one is able to step up and say don’t worry we’ll cover it," she added. 

Kenney says the city has notified both Wan and Shaughnessy of the city’s formal claims procedure, adding that, “The city is committed to working with any affected resident in navigating the process."

According to the city’s website, that involves filing a formal claim against the contract. A disclaimer says due to pandemic-related delays, the entire process could take so months or longer. 

"We feel totally helpless, all we want to know is that the damages will be repaired," Shaughnessy said.