My, what noisy neighbours I have! I want to complain, but I don’t think it would do any good.
These neighbours are new. They only moved in a couple of years ago, but it didn’t take them long to spoil everyone’s peace and quiet.
Before they arrived the neighbourhood was just about perfect. Except for the sound of vehicles driving along nearby roads and sometimes for the roar of a generator or chainsaw, there was hardly any artificial noise anywhere.
You could hear wind in the trees, birds on the wing, water falling down steep rocks — beautiful, calming sounds.
The new neighbours changed everything. They’re building something big on the other side of those hills and they’re building it all the time. Even before they got any permits they started blasting giant holes out of the ground.
Day and night without warning they’d suddenly set off another explosion and shake the earth in all directions.
Then they brought in humongous machines to start moving all the rock they broke from the hills: day and night. These people have no respect for the clock, or for how they might be disturbing the older residents in their vicinity — not just humans, but also wildlife, which suffer from the noise pollution more because they understand it less.
I’d complain, but that’s not so easy because these neighbours are already aware of the noise they’re making and every law in the land lets them make it.
All they had to do to secure this legal amnesty was to admit they had a problem and then (in the case of humans) to imply through silence that no fix is necessary and (in the case of wildlife) to simplistically claim the problem will repair itself.
“Of the 22 cabins identified along the lower Churchill River, 12 cabins will be permanently affected by the creation of the reservoir. Depending on their location, the other 10 cabins may be affected by noise during construction,” reads Nalcor’s “plain language summary” of the plan to build an as-yet undeclared number of dams in the hitherto near-pristine wilderness west of Happy Valley-Goose Bay.
“Animals will temporarily move away from the noise and presence of people at construction sites but will return once construction is completed.”
So, issue identified and summarily dismissed, which means there’s no point in complaining about it.
However, there seems to be nothing in Nalcor’s government-granted carte blanche that deals with light pollution. Nalcor forgot to mention that it would need to flood the night sky with enough candlepower to bounce the glare off the moon.
That much light not only blankets the starscape, but disrupts life in the surrounding forest. Since Nalcor is apparently oblivious to the problem, the company would obviously benefit from a visit, during which I could point out the error of Nalcor’s ways and politely ask the company to turn off the lights once in a while.
But how to visit? Nalcor is not a very welcoming neighbour. The front door is barred to any “unauthorized personnel.”
In fact, Nalcor took a whole forestry road built with public money and, without sanction, declared it private property.
They even had criminal charges laid against local men for merely walking on it.
Fortunately, other local people who have complaints against this bad neighbour are using another road that leads to another way in, one not barred by overpaid ($45 per hour) security guards. The unauthorized visitors are using the river itself. Nalcor has not yet been able to forbid people from travelling on public waterways, and neither has the company yet built a fence along the riverbank, so more and more neighbours have been dropping in to wander unescorted around one of the biggest holes Labrador has ever known.
So far, they’ve not encountered anyone important enough to take note of their complaints, but they’re certainly getting attention.
As soon as an unhelmeted and unsafety-vested visitor appears, the whole excavation site gets shut down for the balance of a day.
One visitor was told he cost Nalcor around $1.5 million, but as others remarked, the company has got it wrong: the visitors are not wasting the money for Nalcor, they’re saving it for taxpayers.
Michael Johansen is a writer living