Campbell River pole peeler owner says sound report was a ‘financial burden’

The owner of a noisy, controversial pole peeler plant on Duncan Bay Road has no immediate plans to implement noise abatement options

The owner of a noisy, controversial pole peeler plant on Duncan Bay Road has no immediate plans to implement noise abatement options recommended by a sound consultant as he said he has already done enough.

The city requested Northern Pressure Treated Wood Ltd., owner of the plant that is in violation of the public nuisance bylaw, hire an independent consultant to come up with a sound report. That report, conducted by BKL Consultants, came back with four different options to reduce noise emissions.

But Mike McCollough, president of Northern Pressure Treated Wood, said the company has already gone above and beyond by insulating the entire building that encloses the debarker.

“The vast majority of debarking plants in the world are not under an insulated building as is our operation on Duncan Bay Road which has a heavy industrial zoning,” McCollough said in a letter to the city. “We trust that after receiving the attached report the city of Campbell River will agree that the financial burden already imposed by the city of Campbell River, by asking for a noise level report, will be sufficient.”

The report suggests reducing the area of the openings on the debarker, or peeler, where the logs go in and out. It also suggests enclosing those openings with tunnels.

“It is recommended that the in-feed tunnel extend by at least four to five metres from the existing in-feed opening,” said Eric de Santis of BKL Consultants in the report. “Exterior walls of the tunnels need not consist of a cavity wall as was constructed in the existing building housing the peeler.”

The report also said the pole peeler owner should line the interior walls and roofs of the building with 50 millimetre rigid duct liner, as well as install a flexible rubber or vinyl curtain along the tunnels that are recommended for the in and out feed openings of the peeler.

The report is also quick to point out that despite the recommendations, nearby neighbours will likely still hear the noise.

“We expect a 15-20 dBA (decibel) reduction in peeler noise with the proper implementation,” de Santis said. “It is noted here, that while a significant reduction in peeler noise is achievable with the above recommendations, peeler noise may still be audible to those in the nearby community.”

McCollough said it would not be in the best interest of the city to demand his company implement any of the sound consultant’s recommendations.

“If further measures to abate the noise levels are requested by the city of Campbell River it will definitely scare all existing businesses already operating in the city of Campbell River and it will chase away any potential investors looking to set up in the region,” he said.

The sound consultants measured the noise at the plant at six different locations surrounding the pole peeler plant.

The on-site measurement was performed 34 metres from where the log is fed into the debarker, which yielded a two-hour measurement of 78 dBA (decibels), the equivalent of a busy street at curb side, or being inside a car going 50 kilometres per hour with the windows opened.

In the nearby Blue Spruce Home Park, where residents have complained the sound from the debarker has destroyed their quality of life, the sound was measured at 54 decibles, the equivalent of a urban residential neighbourhood away from main roads, or if inside, a noisy business office. The typical effect of noise at that level is satisfactory speech and possible communication.

Residents living near the plant have flooded City Hall with complaints about the level of noise coming from the peeler. They describe it as a high-pitch screetch.

“It’s insane, it’s humanly insane to have to listen to this noise,” Connie Cawley, who lives across from the plant, said. “You can’t escape it. It’s driving people crazy.”