Campbell River pole plant driving neighbours crazy

A new log peeling plant on Duncan Bay Road is “inhumane” and driving neighbours away from their homes, an area resident says

A new log peeling plant on Duncan Bay Road is “inhumane” and driving neighbours away from their homes says Connie Cawley, who lives across the road from the operation.

“It’s insane. It’s humanly insane to have to listen to this noise. You can’t escape it,” Cawley says. “It’s already driving people crazy up here.”

Cawley, who has lived on the 4000 block of Duncan Bay road since 1989, is incensed the city allowed the log peeler operation to take up shop in an area so close to residential homes.

Northern Pressure Treated Wood Ltd., based out of Ontario, purchased the lot at 5301 Duncan Bay Road last August and began operating at the site, which is zoned heavy industrial, on Jan. 23. The plant operates from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday.

Company president Mike McCollough told the Mirror in October that the plant wouldn’t be very noisy once it was up and running.

“We have several plants in the east and never had complaints with any of our neighbours,” McCollough says. “I’m sure they’ll be happy when the plant is running.”

Cawley is far from happy.

She says the noise from the peeler plant is “horrendous” and describes it as a “shrieking sound.” Cawley says a young neighbourhood girl compares the sound to nails on a chalkboard.

“It’s loud, I can be inside my house with the radio on and all the windows closed and I can still hear it,” Cawley says.

The noise has already driven one lady out of her home in the Blue Spruce Mobile Home Park and is staying with a relative in Port Alberni, according to Cawley. The city says as of last week, it has received 41 complaints from Duncan Bay area residents regarding the noise.

“We recognize that a number of residents are upset, even distressed, by the location of the plant and consider noise from the operation a disruption to life in the neighbourhood,” says Peter Wipper, city clerk. “We understand that having the noise reduced is urgent for them.”

In response, the city will require the owner of the plant to hire a consultant to come up with a noise reduction plan.

Wipper says the plant is operating legally, with all permits and a business license in place, but the noise level does exceed the public nuisance bylaw and the owner will have to look into noise abatement options by Feb. 24.

The owner has already built insulation and vinyl panels on the side openings.

Still, Cawley says the city’s efforts are too little, too late.

“The city didn’t do due diligence on this one,” she says. “I think it’s way past time for a study. That should have been done before and they should have gone and seen other plants in operation, that’s part of your responsibility as a public official.”

Cawley says her beef is with the previous council – former mayor Charlie Cornfield and councillors Andy Adams, Ziggy Stewart, Mary Storry, Claire Moglove, Ryan Mennie, and Roy Grant – who she says did nothing after she made a presentation to city council in October complaining about the operation. Cornfield said at the time he did not have any information on the plant and there was not much council could do because the operation had already been approved. He also said it was not something “council had cooked up.”

Coun. Stewart defended the operation, saying it was “the start of forestry jobs and investment to come to Campbell River” and that there would be “huge spin-off” from the plant.

Cawley says that’s hard to believe when the peeler plant only employs four people.

And she says council surely could have found a more appropriate spot.