The thought of a log peeling plant going in next door has some Duncan Bay Road residents spitting mad.
“It’s maddening, it’s aggravating, it’s frustrating, it’s just pissed us all right off,” said Connie Cawley.
Cawley has lived on the 4000 block of Duncan Bay Road since 1990. A lot, just over 22 acres in size, has sat vacant across the road from her since she moved to the area, but this lot was bought by Northern Pressure Treated Wood Ltd. (NPTW) in late August, and preparations are under way to set up a log peeling plant and storage yard on the site at 5301 Duncan Bay Rd.
The city issued a industrial permit in September, and the land had been zoned for heavy industrial use since 1998, so neighbouring property owners did not have to be informed ahead of time.
Cawley and many of her neighbours were slated for a delegation to Tuesday’s city council meeting, after the Mirror went to press, as they are worried that the plant will be noisy.
“Apparently the noise from it travels for miles, it will drive you insane,” said Cawley.
She found out that the same equipment going in here was running in Sayward for years so went up there late last week to find out what residents had to say.
She saw an older couple walking along the road and asked them about the plant.
“And (the woman) leans over to me in my car, and she puts her hand on my shoulder, and she says ‘dear, I’m very happy it’s gone from here but I feel very, very sorry for you people,’” said Cawley.
Sierra Cascade Resources LLC owned the equipment and leased operating space at the Western Forest Products site until June.
Councillor and past employee at the log peeler plant in Sayward, Al Braybrook, lives about half a kilometre from where the plant was located. Although he said the noise was somewhat blocked by a hill in between, he could still hear it.
He described the noise as a “high whine” that could be heard throughout the town, but said it didn’t bother him as it wasn’t that loud.
However, some residents complained to council and signed a petition back in fall of 2009 because they said the noise was horrendous. Braybrook wasn’t on council at that time, but said seven or eight homes located on the hill near the plant would have had valid complaints.
Those residents “weren’t the only ones who told me this was true; people that went up there to visit them said ‘oh god it’s just unbearable up there,’” said Braybrook.
However, the company installed a sound barrier after the complaints which lessened the noise somewhat, according to Braybrook.
During the summer, NPTW bought the equipment, the land, and now the ground is being prepped to bring the equipment in.
Company president Mike McCollough said it will be at least a month before the plant is up and running, and he doesn’t believe it will be very noisy once it’s operational.
“We have several plants in the east also, in Eastern Canada, and never had complaints with any of our neighbours,” said McCollough. “I’m sure they’ll be happy when the plant is running, that they’ll see it’s a small operation.”
The plant employs four workers and regular hours of operation are 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. five days a week, according to McCollough.
Cawley is also upset with the city because she knew nothing about the land being zoned for heavy industrial use in 1998.
She simply noticed a sign on the property saying heavy industrial after it was done.
“I don’t remember anything going on to that nature (a public hearing), if there was signs posted or things in the paper, I don’t remember seeing anything,” said Cawley.
Her neighbour Koreen Matheson has lived in the area since 1988, and says she too remembers nothing about a public hearing.
City land use manager Ross Blackwell said a public meeting would have had to be posted in local newspapers letting residents know, but that sometimes people don’t see the postings so don’t know about the public hearings until it’s too late.
While he said he sympathizes with the residents in the area, he said there’s nothing the city can do from a regulatory perspective.
“At the end of the day, in a case like this one where there’s a permitted zone in place with a range of permitted uses, provided that the activity is occurring there in a way that doesn’t contravene any of our regulations bylaws, it’s fine with the city, not to say it doesn’t realize that noise for adjacent residents could be a concern for them,” explained Blackwell, who confirmed that heavy industrial zoning has no restrictions on noise.